11 Aug 2009

Education - The Forecast is Bleak

I'd like to talk about the Conservative Shadow Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb.

By all accounts this man is an unambiguous, thundering arse.

His idea for education is that pupils should sit in rows and learn facts. I'm assuming that these facts won't cover the £296 spent on hedge trimming in one month by Mr Gibb. I mean, almost three hundred pounds on trimming a hedge! What is he growing? Triffids?

The problem is that Gibbo here thinks that the past ten years in British education have been wasted. That the teaching of skills is a nonsense. That the only way to improve our chances as a nation is to regress by 50 years and teach like they did 'in my day'.

As such, here is an open letter to him. Seeing as he is likely to become the part of the new government I feel it is fair that we try to make him see the error of his ways:

Dear Mr Gibb,

I'm not sure if you've noticed Nicky (I can call you Nicky, right?) but the world has moved on somewhat in the past 50 years. Look at all the differences. The Internet, population, movement away from traditional industries in Western Europe, globalisation, multiculturalism, increasing freedoms for minorities, equality for all, class system all but broken down, sexual liberation, more secularism. I could go on but you know all of this. You're an intelligent man. You have a law degree and everything.

What I'm finding difficult to understand is how you think an education system, based on what is essentially a Victorian model fits into this new society? No seriously, that's what you are proposing. A process of education children that was formalised when Britain was the most powerful nation on Earth both economically and militarily. When bright people were educated in grammar schools and everyone else was left to the secondary system.

Indeed, the point of grammar schools was to train people for the clerical roles in the heavy industries, creaming off the most able with the 11+. The bog-standard secondary schools were to educate the masses that would work in the factories. Why then, in a time when Britain has almost no heavy industry, do you feel this is an efficient way of preparing teenagers for life after school?

I'm also confused as to why you haven't listened to employers who are sick of school leavers coming through the system with a fantastic knowledge of the Periodic Table and Rastafarian Religious Holidays but can't spell, present their ideas or work as part of a team?

Those are skills Mr Gibb. Real, we-need-them-to-get-on-in-life skills.

I also question your qualification to be making these kind of decisions. As they will have monumental repercussions for years to come I feel people who perhaps have been, you know, teachers, might be better informed to make these kind of statements. I'm sure the aforementioned law degree and years of working in accountancy have given you many experiences (I'm assuming most of which involved adding up numbers and...er...adding up some more numbers) but knowing how teenagers learn isn't one of them.

I know it would be politically difficult for you to make the u-turn but, hell, what your proposing will actively prevent our young people from being competitive with other nations.

And then Nicko, we'll be well and truly fucked.

Hope this finds you in good health.

Yours Sincerely,

Duke Fandango


  1. P.S. I'd like to thank ArabianMagic's post for helping inspire this. You should go check out her blog. It goes to show that teachers have the same complaints the world over.


  2. You know what's the worst part of that kind of thinking? I'm sure most of the voters agree with his plans (though I'm not really up on British politics, so correct me if I'm wrong).

    As people get older, they adopt this "in my day" mentality that completely destroys their perspective. They're afraid the world is passing them by, so they desperately try to make themselves relevant again by harping about how school was so much more effective when students just learned to parrot Latin verb tenses.

    I'd say Mr. Gibb needs to join Dave Watkins in year 10. Then we'll see what he thinks is best!