The following comment from JunkkMale originally appeared on the What the hell are we doing to out children? thread. Given the dramatic news it contains, it seems to deserve a thread of its own. Also, with the suggestion from an influential government advisor that global warming should now be removed from the national curriculum and schools should be allowed to decide for themselves how they want to deal with the subject, it would seem that JunkkMale’s concerns are still very much on the agenda. In fact that they were very much in advance of their time.
I want to make it quite clear that the discussion here is not to be about private education versus state education. The issues that made the old thread so successful, and that I hope will be given more attention here, do not concern where children are taught, but what and how they are taught, with particular attention to the extent to which political expediency and fashion should influence education, if at all.
It was only back in October of last year that a simple question inspired a thread post of mine that was kindly picked up and elevated by the site owner to a thread of its own.
Beyond the exchanges here, much has happened in the area of kids’ education; sadly little I can honestly say that is too encouraging.
But there does seem to be a sense of good folk no longer being too busy, or easily dismissed into doing nothing. Certainly complemented by many with a lot to say!
However the struggle is real, frustrating and exhausting. Despite the awesome power and opportunities presented by the internet, more traditional mechanisms of policy and information seem still to thrive and dominate.
One thing in particular I have noticed (not least from personal experience) is the removal of accountability. And with that, from Minister to public media, the means of check and balance have been seriously eroded.
I still await answers to questions on education claims made by Philip Hammond and Alistair Darling, and have seen challenges to claims made in print and broadcast either ignored or, in two cases, share the same ‘considered’ reply that the input was noted but not felt enough to act upon. Plus, of course, still no word at all from the AQA or the publishers, despite repeated requests. And senior state educationalists on how, precisely, a child who knows their science can rationalise facts with dogma.
Words are cheap. Actions count more.
I have that small question to thank for one my family has now taken.
It alerted me to take a greater interest in my sons’ education, from the teaching methods to the impositions of curricula from ‘on high’, to woefully poor exam questions that not only are unanswerable but also point to a very skewed attitude on the whole topic of state education.
The secondary school my boys are at was and is a good one. I believe the staff do their best with what they have got. And I have been happy to try and work with them to help improve matters.
But some things are too important to risk. And time, to allow the grinding mechanisms of public sector self-assessment to become more constructively critical, much less change, is a window too small to let pass because of any social idealism.
In September my two sons start at an independent school; one where, from the head down, the dedication is to getting the kids a great education in the basics so that, when the time is right, they have the necessary building blocks to make their own decisions, as well and as objectively informed as we can make them.
It took a lot of soul-searching, and a major amount of family budget re-juggling, but I hope it will be worth it.
This thread need not expire at all, as the education of all our kids is too vital to let any compromise become the norm by simply getting tolerated, but I’d like to thank all here who have shared my journey thus far, and helped in getting me to come to the only course I think I could rationally make.
I’ve moved some comments here from the old thread to this one.