I worked in Education for thirty six years and prior to that I was largely a victim of it for twenty plus years. My experience of schooling gave me the impetus to get involved and change it. My disgust at the education minister and the Tory attempt to belittle all the achievements of recent decades and drag education back to the appalling 1950s is my main reason for writing this. Children should be valued as human beings and not seen as mere economic units for the employment market. Education that is not developing all aspects of human empathy, and creativity as well as expanding minds is wrong. Most leading fascists have been highly educated – after a fashion. It was their empathy, compassion and warmth of spirit that was allowed to atrophy. Any education system that fosters elitism and the smug arrogance that stems from it should be resisted by all caring people. A system that ignores the promotion of human feeling and sound moral and ethical values in order to focus on exam league tables and economic performance is flawed. The society created would be cold and bitter.
I have fought against that limited view of education all my life.
I have fought for the warmth and light.
In my teaching experience I have known students with lower intelligence, destined for poor grades and lowly jobs, but possessing a range of qualities that left me humbled. I have known highly intelligent individuals, destined for top jobs, who were mean spirited and likely to create misery. My job was to bring out the best in both and my hope is that both types left school better equipped to make a positive contribution to society.
Education is a nebulous thing. We are building the future and the future is not only concerned with careers and wealth; it is also about families, societies, relationships and supporting those less fortunate. How to build a better world should be our curriculum. How we repair damaged children should be our imperative. How we foster positive human values should be our main aim. Teaching and learning, exam results and league tables are almost superfluous in the face of such paramount challenges.