Returning to England last year, after a hiatus of 15 years, I was shocked, and the word is not too strong, at the level of ignorance among youth and even 40 somethings in the general populace. This ignorance applies to general skills, to the point where I help young people in stores make change, even when it is shown to them on the screens of their tills. The level of speech is blatantly lower and the giving up of the use of a standard English has created a society wherein people simply do not communicate.
Now, the teacher's unions are against entrance testing for phonics. Now, I do not agree with heavy central government interference with schooling. But the schools have failed the students and are failing still here in Britain. Few youth and 40 somethings read outside of those in education or academia. Few can speak "good English" and few can write well. I am not one who blames the computer for all of these ills, as an excellent teacher can use the computer after skills are taught for greater skill building.
However, something must be done. As I have explained to my seminary friends in the States, the level of their "theology" at the graduate level is what I had in high school-no kidding-and the level of reading and writing in Britain for the school leaver is low. Even after primary education, a spokeswoman for Education has statistics which caused her to state yesterday that, Standards of reading need to rise - at the moment around one in six children leaves primary school unable to read to the level we expect”
The fact that excellence has not been encouraged and that teachers usually teach to the lowest common denominator in classrooms are well-established facts in Great Britain, Ireland, America and even France. Trades have not been taught since the 1970s, as the politically correct version of education cannot bear to be honest about various gifts and talents among the students which should lead to tracking and the training of those who have such skills. Oh no, we cannot possibly have classes which teach practical skills, or, even IT, as in Ireland, where the level of IT skills resembles that of 1990 in the States.
Too many young parents tell me that they do not have time to read to their children or to encourage gifts. Why? Education helps the parents, who are the primary educators of their children, but the socialist and communist agendas have brainwashed three generations of parents or more into believing that it is the duty of the State to educate primarily.
All state governments are based on a political philosophy and an idea of the individual. In 2012, the rule of the mob, clearly prophesied by de Tocqueville, has created this crisis in education. We need tests, we need different levels of skills to be taught, we need higher standards, despite the cries of those who hate Western Civilization and wish for its fall. We need an educated people to withstand tyranny. We need adults who can think.
Sadly, the big governments seem to have to interfere as the teachers are so liberal, nay, radically leftist, that they do not want anything but the lie of the classless society. That this has happened in the countries mentioned here as well as in America does not bode well for the future of the West.
And, one reason why there is so much unemployment in Ireland and England is that the students have not been taught the skills necessary for the jobs which are available. There are many, many jobs and not the skilled labor force to fill them. Duh....who is too blame for this but the education systems.
When I brought up the excellence of Finnish schools in a conversation with French and English teachers, my points were not considered seriously. Why there is a blindness as to how to create success and an insistence on pursuing policies and teacher training in England which has obviously failed is a mystery to me. Every real teacher wants the best for his or her students. I want my students to love to learn, to want to learn and be self-motivated. I want them to learn how to think.
The present systems are not interested in any of those goals and have lost the tools of learning-a la Dorothy Sayers great article I have used for twenty years in parent meetings and at the university level. Here is sample from her famous article, written long ago and never more true than today:
The modern boy and girl are certainly taught more subjects--but does that always mean that they actually know more? Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to distribute over a wide area? Or do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the
product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact
from opinion and the proven from the plausible? Have you ever, in listening to a debate among
adult and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the
average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the
other side? Or have you ever pondered upon the extremely high incidence of irrelevant matter
which crops up at committee meetings, and upon the very great rarity of persons capable of acting as chairmen of committees? And when you think of this, and think that most of our public affairs
are settled by debates and committees, have you ever felt a certain sinking of the heart? Have you
to define the terms they use? Or how often, if one man does define his terms, another will assume
in his reply that he was using the terms in precisely the opposite sense to that in which he has
already defined them? Have you ever been faintly troubled by the amount of slipshod syntax
going about? And, if so, are you troubled because it is inelegant or because it may lead to
dangerous misunderstanding? Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school,
not only forget most of what they have learnt (that is only to be expected), but forget also, or
betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves? Are you
often bothered by coming across grown-up men and women who seem unable to distinguish
between a book that is sound, scholarly, and properly documented, and one that is, to any trained
eye, very conspicuously none of these things?
I blame parents, who chose a certain lifestyle rather than the priority of educating their children. A house and mortgage with both parents working becomes more important than education. A vacation or two becomes more important than discipline in the home. Things, gadgets, whatever, become more important than learning and the love of learning.
If every parent in England, France, Ireland just had the classics on the shelves of the homes, like I did growing up in a semi-rural area, the children would be encourage to read.
If every parent discussed ideas and current events with their children, which would mean that they would have to read and become discerning, the level of rational discourse would naturally rise. I know many families which never discuss anything. These are the families which no longer eat together or walk together or have time for each other's growth.
|Thanks to Wiki for photo|
The death of the family is the death of an educated populace and the government cannot take over the role of the parent without the subsequent destruction of freedom, of democracies or even benevolent monarchies (a myth of my monarchical friends). Even a monarch needs an educated people. Even the great Popes knew this fact, and the encyclicals of our present Pope reflect this need, not only of catechesis, but the teaching and learning of reason.