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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Great Britain is "not a socialist nation"...and education

I was discussing the demise of the educational excellence of the British school system over the past 40 years, and referring to the excellence of Finland, when one of the adults in the conversation said, "But of course, Finland is a socialist country and Britain is not." I tried not to laugh out loud and was polite, but how can any English person, in this case a mum with school-age grandchildren say such a stupid thing? Great Britain has been a welfare, socialist state for several generations, since the last world war, and Finland's excellence has less to do with socialism than strict controls and unique ideas of education, sorely lacking in Great Britain. There are efforts to go back to the O-Levels. I hope this happens. But more is needed.

Now, remember, education by the State is barely over 100 years old and the State system has failed, as has the Catholic system "owned" by the State.

The Wolf Report earlier this year on vocational education was a shock to many Brits, except for those of us involved in education, at least those of us who have been honest. What has been lacking in Great Britain is a vision for education which is not merely getting everyone through the system, but with a view to excellence, the dreaded word of the socialist.

Now, remember that Hollande ran on a non-elitist campaign against private education in France. The socialist agenda does not like excellence, or a thinking public.  Puppets and "good citizens" mean a mediocre system.

That the British dumbed down their system in my life-time has left a horrible situation of basically uneducated school leavers. Of course, the proverbial elephant in the room is the fact that there are so many students who leave school at 16 knowing no trade and with extremely poor math and language skills and that this is owing to socialist ideology. The same problem happened in the United States, of course, with the preoccupation with leaving no one behind, lowering standards to meet minority needs, and undermining excellence.

Not all people have the same talents and gifts, but all can learn. As an ex-Montessori teacher, I know that all children, if presented with the right environment, can grasp maths and grammar at very early ages.  The trouble is not innate ability, but the will to create the correct type of schools and to admit that diversity, instead of uniformity, is necessary in education. Hollande's dream of giving all the students in France the same education will only create a dumb society of people who have not learned to learn and have not been encouraged in their own talents.

I have been discussing these things since the 1970s. Why does it take so long for the public to realize that the education systems of Great Britain and America have failed, a long time ago? Just look at the statistics for the last ten years. This is not rocket science. This graph is from 2010.
PISA rankings within OECD