Education – why the Tories changed the Education system.

They deliberately changed education from experiment, investigation and creativity to rote memory of ‘facts’ for exams.

They didn’t want people having fun investigating, doing experiments or creating. They wanted people learning to be controlled, sitting in rows being fed information. They wanted kids memorising information and regurgitating it for examinations. They then wanted to separate these into failure and success.

Hence they narrowed the curriculum, doing away with the creative arts subjects (not good for jobs) and altered the syllabi in order to be factual instead of experimental.

They did away with the GCSE, which worked for all levels of ability, hardened it up to create more failure.

Mind you, they did not impose this regime on the private schools. Those privileged kids could be creative and inventive, it was the hoi-polloi that they wanted as work fodder.

How stupid is this??

It was purely political. They did not want to encourage questioning or investigation in the general population. They wanted a quiescent population who could be easily channelled. They wanted workers who did not challenge them.

Unfortunately, this is plain stupid. We live in an age where all information is available at the touch of a keypad. There is no need to memorise it all. Information is no longer the most important factor. What society needs is inventiveness and creativity. That is what made this country so dynamic.

The Tories want creativity and inventiveness in the hands of the privileged. The rest of us don’t need to think – just to work and earn money for them.

We should know our place.

Poetry – The Exam Machine

The Exam Machine

Putting my kids through the exam machine –

A number in a box.

I’m proud she a fine statistic,

But she’d better pull up her socks.

She cannot let the side down;

She got to learn

To take the knocks.

There is no time for fun

In the shadow of the exam factory,

No skills, partnership

Or room for creativity.

They sit in lines

To learn the goods,

Raising standards

On the way.

As they tick the box

When you test them

They have all the rote

Things to say.

Opher 26.3.2016

The Exam Machine

As our schools continue down the path to achieve factory status and our children become units to be slotted in the machine I wonder how this will meet the needs of the modern world.

Each school will become a self-contained business, worshipping on the altar of flawed international PISA tables.

The religious fundamentalists and big business are keen to get in on the academy act. They do not have to employ qualified teachers. That’s fine when all you are doing is getting the poor mites to recite medieval verse or learn how to stack a shelf; it cuts running costs.

The government loves this academy business. They can farm out a lot of the costs to those people, whoever they are, who are dying to get their hands on our children. As a bonus they can zoom up the PISA tables, break the teacher’s pay and conditions, wrest control of schools away from commie county halls and parents, and appeal to nostalgia where previous generations were terrorised and fed boring drivel to regurgitate.

It’s a race back to the fifties with knowledge based exams. Because what we need now are kids who can recite facts. I know all facts and knowledge are readily available at the push of a phone key but regurgitating them is fun. We don’t really need any of those namby pamby social skills, teamwork, qualities, creativity, lateral thinking or all those useless subjects like music, art, ICT, history, drama or geography. Double doses of Maths and English are all that’s required.

We can employ ex-soldiers to control the bored lovelies as they progress through the tedium.

Besides – they are only state school kids. Anyone with anything about them pays so that they don’t have to kow-tow to Ofsted or follow all this rubbish. The Public School kids are the ones that really count.

The Corona Diaries – Day 197

It has been a nice day today! The sun was shining. My mate Bill came over for a socially distanced walk up my hill. It shows how much this isolation gets to you – I don’t think I stopped talking. He’s probably deaf now.

We had lunch in the garden and a natter.

Back at work on my Roy Harper book I’ve been playing some Django Reinhardt and boogying.

Out there in Coronaland our bunch of muppets continue to mess up. Having now allowed the virus to get well out of control – another 14,542 new cases and 76 deaths – they are compounding the issue with a pathetic track and trace system With 16,000 cases missed you would think that heads might roll – I suggest Johnson, Hancock and Harding for starters.

I’ve had one commentator on the blog saying what a good job these fools are doing. It seems that 42,000 deaths – a world-beating number – is no indication of incompetence.

Number of deaths:

UK – 42,445 (going on 67,000 really)

USA – 211,000

Brazil – 147,000

Vietnam – 35

Korea – 425

New Zealand – 25

Well it makes me embarrassed. As an island with a great health service and first world structure we find ourselves knocked into a cocked hat by China, Vietnam and Korea. Vietnam with all its poverty and overcrowding shut its massive borders and tested tested tested from the beginning – 35 dead and an unaffected economy. The UK – dithered, complacently watched – 42,445 deaths and a messed up economy. And this isn’t the government????

It is for me.

So what do the UK, USA and Brazil have in common??? Three populist clowns!!

We are paying the price for electing a clown.

Trump, fresh from his brush with death, pumped full of every possible cure known to man (immunoglobulins, antivirals, steroids and oxygen) is not dead.

He was gasping for breath having stepped up a few steps to his balcony for a bit of political theatre, but still claims that the virus is less lethal than flu.

I wonder if the average Americans, who won’t have access to a big team of doctors and all the expensive treatments, feel about that? I wonder what the tens of millions of Americans without any medical cover feel about it?

Over here education is in a mess. Kids in schools and universities are being put through a boring curriculum, delivered on whiteboards by frightened staff. They are trying to make up for lost time but 1500 schools have classes sent home and staff self-isolating. Kids are going to be in and out of school and the teaching is so limited it’s going to be crap.

It’s a nightmare for delivery. How can you deliver a syllabus with kids dropping in and out?

But the exams will go ahead – trimmed and later – but going ahead. We’ll see.

Fortunately, that is no longer my problem!

Take care everyone – stay safe!

Education, careers and Captain Beefheart – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Religion is a compulsory subject in British schools. Every child has to be brainwashed every single day with a religious input, by law. Isn’t that absurd?

It is an archaic throwback to the days when religion was the cornerstone of society and schools were first conceived as places where children of the elite were schooled in Latin Grammar so they could read the Bible. Later, schooling became more widely available to the general public as society had progressed and there was a need for people with knowledge and skills to carry out the various tasks and careers needed by society.

But where does the concept of educating people to expand their minds fit in? A career is one thing but a questioning mind is something else altogether. I wanted my education to be expansive, fun, illuminating and thrilling. I wanted discovery, excitement and revelation. I received facts to learn for exams. I did not really count that as an education.



Captain Beefheart was on at Middle Earth up in Covent Garden in London. That was an event that would change the whole of anybody’s life. Captain Beefheart, complete with Zoot Horn Rollo, Rockette Morton, Alex St Claire, Drumbo and who knew who else. The whole Magic Band. That was worth £5,000,000 of anybody’s money!

The only problem was that it was right in the middle of A Levels.

This was a crisis.

No problemo. It was the week before my Biology. I wasn’t one for revision anyway. I always did well in Biology. Besides I needed a good night out. It would set me up for the exams. But I needed my grade to get my place at university to study medicine. No problemo. I told you, I always do well in Biology.

But this was the whole of my future!

No problemo!

There was no choice in the matter. It had to be done. Beefheart might not tour again. The world might end and I wouldn’t have seen him.

Besides – it was a whole week before.

I went. Rockette Morton was ill so they postponed. They put on Aynsley Dunbar instead. There was no comparison.

They put the Captain on the following week and made it a double bill with John Mayall, complete with Pete Green on lead.

Now that was a slight problem. That was the night before my Biology exam. But a double-bill with Captain Beefheart with John Mayall and Peter Green – who could possibly afford to miss that???

If I went I would not get back until three in the morning. My exam was at nine. That was about five hours sleep. That also meant no night before revision (the only revision I tended to do). I had this theory that it was pointless revising more than a day before an exam. You forgot it all. It really wasn’t so much of a theory as an excuse – back then my memory was very good. It was just that my mind was on other things that seemed much more important to me back then.

This was my future we were talking about! My future for fuck’s sake! My eminent career as a doctor, a surgeon even! Surely I was mature enough to understand that?

But then, Captain Beefheart might not tour again, the band might break up, and Pete Green was scintillating on guitar. Besides I always came top in Biology; I didn’t need to revise. I could breeze it.

But you had to admit that five hours sleep and no revision was hardly perfect preparation for a crucial exam.

I had to think this through for all of five minutes.

Where were my parents in all this? Where was my father’s guiding hand? My mum’s words of wisdom? I can’t remember. I think they had given up on trying to influence my choices. They had decided that I was a law unto myself. While not shining in my academic endeavours, I did seem to get by, so they tended to leave me to it.

The concert was brilliant! One of the best ever! The Magic band were storming! Beefheart was incredible! John Mayall, even with Pete Green, paled into insignificance.

The Biology exam was all right but there were a few questions that proved a little tricky. A bit of revision might not have gone amiss.

When the results came out I had missed the required standard by a grade. That could have been a single mark! One fact! One glance at one page of notes! The university was not impressed. They declined my services. Instead of studying medicine I did a Zoology degree at a lesser establishment. I went on to establish a scintillating career as a teacher. The pay of a teacher is not greatly comparable to the pay of a surgeon. But what the hell! Who wanted a career anyway? There was far too much real living to be getting on with, a whole universe to explore!

Some concerts are worth £5000,000 of anybody’s money.



Why is poetry not the only compulsory subject in schools?



There’s no doubt that nuclear energy is a big mistake in this age of global terrorism. A plane smashing into a nuclear plant could be a catastrophe.

Just imagine how many tens of thousands of terrorists, each consuming twenty tins of beans, it would take to sabotage a field of Wind Turbines?


Religious Beliefs – extract from Farther from the Sun.

I don’t believe in doing good, in the hope of heavenly rewards in some what I consider fictitious after-life.



My Dad was certainly not a church-goer. I don’t think he believed in religion, but I think he may have had some vague spiritual beliefs but he certainly would not talk about them. I know he had been quite shocked by my Mum’s belief in spiritualism.

When he first met her family they had invited him to a séance. He’d treated it as a joke. He’d had a close friend who was a submariner who had been reported missing in action during the war and took along a cap-band of his friends. During the séance he offered the cap-band and was given a set of numbers. He followed it up and discovered that they were coordinates. The MOD enquired where he had got them from. The coordinates were fifty miles from the last known position of the submarine.

Dad never went to another séance and did not want to know about it. Anything to do with religion, death or spirituality was off the table; he did not want to give it headroom.

I don’t know how true any of that was.



I taught a section on evolution. California State law stated that equal time had to be given to Creation. I had parents sitting in with stopwatches, and one with an egg-timer, to check that I kept to the law. That was a new experience for me. It is quite difficult to generate enthusiasm and involvement with a group of sullen adults staring at you as if you were Satan.

So, what, as a non-believer, do you tell anybody about creation theory that can possibly take as long as explaining the intricacies of Darwinian evolution through natural selection?

Easy. I sent the whole thing up. To start with I put on my best, over the top, Monty Python voice. I made expansive arm movements. I got them to close their eyes and imagine nothing. We spent ten minutes trying to hold that concept. I then got them to picture God. I asked them what they thought he looked like. It is astounding to me how many eighteen-year-old students and forty-something -year-old parents actually believed that God was this old geezer with long robes, long hair and a great straggly white beard.

I find that absurd. If someone proved to me that there was a god and asked me to picture what god was like, I would automatically think more in line with the forces released in the centre of a hydrogen bomb, or the energy that holds atoms together.

But they all did as they were asked and took it very seriously. They closed their eyes and tried to make everything black and empty. Then this old geezer comes in stage right and does some hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo complete with hand movements and there is a great flash of light. Then he makes this plasticine stuff and spends six days rolling zillions of stars and planets and spinning them around and painting oceans and mountains. Then he made living stuff and breathed into them to give them life and last of all, the crown of creation, he made man – little models in his own image. Then he took a bit out of one of his models and made woman. I have always thought that this story was a bit demeaning towards women. It was straight out of the Abrahamic tradition of pandering to some mediaeval theory of women being lesser beings, subservient and not really made in God’s image. But there you go. You give the folks what they want to hear. That’s entertainment!

What it isn’t is education.

My lesson on creation worked a treat! They were well pleased. All the Monty Python, over the top Magnus Pyke presentation, was British eccentricity and passionate theatre. After all, they were used to it with all those evangelist preachers. I was in good company. They loved the ranting, visualisations and role-play. They could visualise the old man rolling up balls of plasticine. That made sense to them. Two of the parents actually commended me on my lesson.

Liz castigated me for making a mockery of peoples’ beliefs. I protested. That wasn’t really the case. I’m a tolerant person. I just do not believe that religion has a place in education. For me to teach it as if it was factual made a mockery of education.

Liz said that I should not have ridiculed their faith in such a manner.

Perhaps she was right.

See. Liz says I’m arrogant. I acknowledge that at times I can certainly come across that way. I sometimes think that I have good reason to be. Many people are simple and stupid. They don’t delve below the surface. How long does it take to roll up a few zillion balls even if one takes point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero one of a second? Can you do it in six days?

Why does God, who is infinite, get knackered and have to have a rest on the seventh day?

How big was this dude?

No. They were more than happy with the old bloke rolling up balls, breathing life into stuff, modelling mountains and spitting out oceans. Especially as I took longer over the creation theory than I did with the evolution bit plus I was far less animated and theatrical with evolution. I did that in my normal voice.

It seemed to me that half my class were born again Christians and half the class were stoners. The strange thing was that half of the born againers were stoners. I found this bemusing and asked one of them.

“Where’s it say in the bible that you can’t smoke dope, man?”

Well he had a point.



I do believe in infinity, mystery, wonder and awesome beauty.


How much do you know about the Human Population? Are you pessimistic or optimistic about our future?

This is a fascinating little quiz that is extremely informative. Is progress being made? Should we feel pessimistic or optimistic about the future?

 How much do you know about the achievements of the WHO? Try taking the little quiz and finding out a lot more!

A great way to create more integration! I know – Faith Schools!

A great way to create more integration! I know – Faith Schools!

The major problems occur in society when people live apart and become suspicious of each other. To mingle and talk is great; it breaks down barriers so that people discover they are all intrinsically similar. We humans are one people.

Religion, race and culture separate people. When people get together in multicultural ways they can benefit from the richness of different cultures. It cross-fertilises. It brings colour, vitality and joy. Out of it comes hybrids that invigorate.

It is when people become segregated from each other and alienated that trouble occurs.

We used to have a great fear of black culture from Jamaica, Pakistanis, Indians and Sikhs. But most of the people who arrived in the fifties and sixties have been integrated, taken on British values and fit in.

I know it is not perfect. A lot of work still needs doing. We need more cohesion and equality, more respect and sharing.

These days we have major problems with our Muslim community and radicalisation.

So what about a great way to bring people from different religions, cultures and races together – why not segregate them in Faith Schools!!!

Who the hell thought up such a stupid idea?

Let’s set up Jihadi colleges and Creationist schools! Why not? I mean it isn’t as if we haven’t already had problems with radicalisation in Birmingham schools; it isn’t as if there are thousands of unregistered schools indoctrinating kids with who knows what; it isn’t as if we haven’t had the Christian Catholic school indoctrinating kids.

What madness is this?

Is this a means of getting religion to fund schools?

Are GCSE results the only thing that count? Have we totally lost sight of the big picture?

There are all sorts of extreme religious fanatics who would like nothing better than to get their hands on our kids!

Segregation is not the answer to integration!a-passion-for-education-cover This is how it should be done!

Why is a good education important?

Why is a good education important?

Education is truly the most powerful weapon in human armoury.
Education is about relationship. A good relationship is one that enables students to think and evaluate. A bad education is one based on ‘facts’ and indoctrination.
Every child should receive a good education that stimulates their minds and enables them to soar.

I think, therefore I exist.



Is it really important to go to school? To read endless theoretical dull texts? How often do we get the feeling we don’t need to know what we are learning and immediately forget it after the tests?

Does learning things make me happier? 

Yes. But not immediately.

It may seem, at first sight, rather contradictory: knowledge is so many times the cause of great distress, yet an ignorant life appeals to no one. It is true that knowledge comes with a disturbing counterpart: our mind, once carefree and lax is progressively filled with complicated concerns and questions. To be disturbed is not necessarily a negative thing, though, as these concerns and questions are what will guide our choices and actions and turn us into more conscious, independent individuals. Before a change has to be a moment of rupture and therefore before our growth a lot of these…

View original post 432 more words