Education – a political tool?

Education – A tale of parents and me

I am the first person in my family, from either side, to have gained a University Degree.
It seems to me that keeping a population ignorant makes them easier to control. You are more likely to question things if you have been educated.
I come from working class stock. One of my grandfathers was a meat porter in Smithfield market. The other was a meter reader for the water board.
My father was very clever. He passed his exams to go to the Grammar School. His parents refused to allow him. They could not afford his uniform. He left school at fourteen to go to work and bring his pay packet home. He joined up in the army to fight in Italy in the Second World War. As an adult he took courses and became an ace typist that enabled him to gain a career in Fleet Street on the newspapers. He achieved a middle management post in charge of a telephone reporters’ office.
My mother’s education effectively ended at the age of eleven when she became ill and was sent off to the seaside for a long convalescence. On returning she was deemed to have missed too much and placed in the ‘Remove’ class. This was really a class for those with extreme learning difficulties. As soon as the teacher found my mother could read and write she set her to work helping the other students. In those days the class sizes were fifty five plus. My mum became a teacher’s aide. She took a group of students and taught them. She never escaped from that Remove class. She was too useful. Her own education was brought to a halt.
Like my father my mother later took courses and achieved a high level of expertise in typing and short-hand that enabled her to have a career up until she had babies.
My parents believed in education. They knew it was a passport to a better way of life. To be educated gave you the qualifications, skills and outlook to gain a superior way of life. You had a choice of more fulfilling careers, greater earning power and social mobility. More importantly it opens your mind to more options and greater horizons. It gives you confidence and your life more colour.
I believe education is the long term answer to ignorance such as religious fundamentalism. An educated mind questions whereas an ignorant mind is more willing to accept.
My life has been transformed by the education my family afforded me. I gained the qualifications to go into teaching and become a Headteacher – a career that put me in contact with lively idealistic young minds and proved extremely fulfilling. It opened my mind to question the world, appreciate its beauty, to write, read, travel and meet extraordinary people.
I am grateful for my upbringing. They gave me love, freedom and education. The never tried to indoctrinate me with their politics or religion.
I am who I am because of it.
I often wonder how far my gifted parents would have gone if they had education behind them? They were victims of poverty and the class system that prevented them achieving what they were capable of.

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