Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Education Education Education!

‘Human history is more and more a race between education and catastrophe’ said H G Wells.

Do you think education is winning the race? A meeting to discuss this big question was organised by the Hull and East Riding Green Party last Monday in the King William pub, Cottingham.

Bill Rigby introduced the evening explaining that education has only developed into a major industry in recent history. Once, humans were forest creatures, but as populations grew we got into agriculture in the Middle East, about 8,000 years ago. The increased productivity allowed us to create governments and cities - and war. Cities made commerce and trade more necessary.

British government involvement in education stems from the 1870 Education Act.

The school Curriculum started off with the only compulsory component being Religious Education. Second to this came PE - in response to the state’s need for men to be strong enough to carry guns. Third came Home Economics - the need for nutrition to keep people healthy ( and wage war!)

Education became the means for the next generation to be readied for work. It was necessary to make the present social system work. So all our schools, colleges and universities have developed to replenish the personnel necessary to current society, and now we pay huge taxes for education.

However, the world has changed. We now see that we need to work cooperatively instead of competitively both at local and international levels. Einstein said – a fundamental problem cannot be solved with the same understanding that gave rise to it. Bill asked: If we’ve identified the need for a different society, how do we get there given we’re trained for this one?

The ensuing discussion included the following points: much education is about inculcation, formation and training. Instead, education should focus on questions such as ‘Who am I, what am I?’

Mainstream education creates codependency.

School tends to teach you that you learn only in school. Jackie challenges this as she home educates her children. This is a growing movement across Britain. She said, ‘my four year old daughter, at home, was just naturally learning, soaking things up.’

Colin pointed out that schools have lots of problems: bullying, peer pressure, truancy. Many kids are frightened, put off, alienated, by the whole thing. Now we have students being told not to use wikipedia – the biggest encyclopedia in the world.

A young woman said that school is training you. But it’s not actually teaching you how to live in society. A school student said a lot really depends on which teacher you have. Students are not taught to challenge. A teacher said, ‘I take the opportunity, in social sciences, to talk about Marcuse and Marx, and give students the tools to criticise capitalist society: give them solid critical skills.’

Diana thought that it would be healthier to mix age groups more, and Colin commented that the Scandinavian model regards play as central to learning.

Since the 1980s Thatcher, and her offspring, Blair and Brown, have got into the micro-control of education. Paul pointed out that in Scotland there are no league tables nor SATs. (SATs originate in America). Scotland has only one teaching union, unlike England which has several, which means it is possible to divide and rule the teaching profession.

Bill said the English system is one of complete conformity. When SATs were introduced, all 24,000 schools dutifully returned their SATs scores.

Shan said that this system has spread across the world. She quoted a director of Education in Uganda who called the western model of education ‘Education for Stupidification”. Uganda’s current model is based on the British education system and Uganda gets most of its education budget from DFID.

Shan said there is a huge difference between what we want for our child and what the state wants for them. Paul qualified this by saying that people are very heavily conditioned by our current materialistic culture.

Jackie felt many of the parents just collude with the system and say, “you’ve got to go , it’s good for you.”

Education is DONE to us! It should be ‘owned’ by the community.

What do you think?!! Write us your comments.


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