Education and The Lessons of History

Take your choice of metaphor – a cycle (wheel) or a pendulum – both return from whence they came. Education is a fine landscape in which to observe this phenomenon. We lurch (usually in tune to the mood of the swing portion of the electorate) from left to right and back again. We are unable to establish any kind of consensus that would actually allow the system to stabilise and prosper. The curriculum, the management of schools, the definitions of  exam success – all are susceptible to this process.

Nothing new in any of this as we fly, perhaps further than ever, on the outward swing. However, this might be a good moment to remind  any body agonising over a decision and desperately trying to read the runes, that things will, sooner or later, revert. Why? Because basic common sense and logic eventually win through to rein in the lunacies. The problems are always over stated, the solutions always designed for voters and not professionals and in the end, the effect of smoke and mirrors invariably collapses.

The logic of this argument should be worrying for all of those engaged in setting up chains of schools or ‘Free’  ones and schools that are dumping everything in favour of the E Bac. For efficiency and fairness, the school system needs to be locally organised and refereed by some form of  Local Education Authority. For the sake of pupils of all abilities, there needs to be a proper vocational route through school. For the struggling school there needs to be patient and long term support to combat the complex factors that will be holding it back. History teaching should involve the encouragement of analytical skills as well as the remembering of facts. A multi cultural society in search of spiritual and moral values needs good Religious and Moral Education. If doctors need a professional council then so do teachers. Universities are a national resource that need to be funded largely by the state and not substantially by the students.

It would be interesting to try and establish a core consensus, but this task should not be left to politicians (who would never agree), it should come from within the system itself  and it should be defended at both a local and a national level. Perhaps some of the high profile Heads who currently have the ear of the government could help out. The long and not the short term. The dog and not the tail.

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