Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: "Schools are failing.." - Oct 05

From Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Don't put the soapbox away, I need it again..
From my newspaper today:

"Schools are failing to teach the difference between good and evil, according to a leading philosopher. Teachers are frightened of causing offence or are too focused on achieving targets, said Dr Peter Vardy, vice-principal of London University's Heythrop College. Pressure to get children through A-levels and GCSEs so schools can climb up league tables means teachers now concentrate on results, he said. Any aspect of education not geared to getting good grades and meeting Government goals had been jettisoned. He said he knew of students with straight As at A-level who have been so carefully drilled in exam techniques that they had never read an entire academic article or book.

"Speaking ahead of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference annual meeting in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, Dr Vardy urged schools to teach children how to think for themselves. At the same time they must stress the difference between good and evil. Dr Vardy said the need to teach children about moral values had become more urgent than ever after the September 11 terror attacks in the US. He said, 'Good education is about seeking to hold a careful and difficult balance.' The problem is greater in state schools but a significant minority of top independent schools were also failing, said Dr Vardy.

" 'Trying to show young people what it means to live a fulfilled human life needs to be at the core of good education today,' he added. 'It means challenging the idea that happiness is the main aim of life.' He said that the 'god of tolerance' now rules in the classroom and anyone who believes in universal truths is viewed with suspicion. Sex education has simply become an exercise in utilitarian 'risk management' aimed at meeting the Government's target of cutting teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infection rates."

It's just mad. Firstly, the difference between good and evil isn't something you can or should try to teach to a person. It's something a person has to work out for themselves. Does Dr Vardy seriously think that if a schoolteacher had told one of the 9/11 bombers that killing people is morally wrong, this would have stopped them? If so, please, how has he managed to get a PhD?

And did you get the bit about teaching children how to think for themselves? This is not something you can teach either - in fact, trying to teach someone anything at all is likely to have the opposite effect. This seems so obvious to me I'm amazed that academics are struggling with the issue.

We take children out of their natural environment, away from their natural guardians and teachers and herd them in same-age groups for most of their waking hours, creating artificial conditions for their formative years: how can they learn anything except how to survive in a herd, and they best and cheapest ways of blotting out the pain and the insanity?

But most of all, I'm amazed at the audacity of an establishment of academics and government ministers just casually assuming our young are theirs to try to control. It's breathtakingly arrogant and wrong of them to make decisions or even hold discussions about the moral welfare of other people's children.

The best possible way for them to ensure our children learn what it is they need to learn is to leave us alone to bring them up in the way we see fit.

posted by Gill at 1:56 PM 1 comments


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're very wrong indeed. No child is able to formulate their own ideas about life. People that think giving a child more freedom of choice is a solution against rebellion are, I think, foolish. Besides, it would seem no one is really willing to take the risk of not indoctrinating their child in support of this theory.

Secondly, your children ARE the government's business. The government's schools have a responsibility to society, if not to you as a parent, to instill those moral beliefs that the country is built upon - the moral beliefs we hope you are teaching them at home. British parents have been given the liberty to handle their children, and the evidence is strongly suggesting that they need a hand.

8:14 pm, March 01, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"No child is able to formulate their own ideas about life."
What makes you think this?

"Besides, it would seem no one is really willing to take the risk of not indoctrinating their child in support of this theory."
I'm willing. I've done it. It works.

"Secondly, your children ARE the government's business." Why?

8:18 pm, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you say you've done this, does this mean you did not reprimand your kids when they've 'stepped out of line'? Or more broadly, done those things unacceptable in society? Those things you uphold too? Is to step-out-of-line to only do you, the parent, wrong?

If in school your child ill-treats another, is it not the school's responsibility to punish bad behaviour; and your child's place to take due responsibility for that wrong? Your child needs to know what is acceptable to do and not do, and the schools do so; And the schools are subsequently the government's business.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase 'no man is an island'. Society shapes, to a large extent, the character of all individuals. As a parent, (rather like Plato's Demiurge) yours is to ensure they know what to take and what not to take; which, by the way, is subjective - you evaluate these things as you (a grown adult) see fit. Growing up to reject what you have been taught does not mean you have formulated your 'own ideas'. 'There is nothing new under the sun'; you've just rejected your parent's will and taken up some other pre-existing values.

7:00 pm, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

When you trust children to behave well, they don't 'step out of line'. This is the theory I've put into practice in the past 18 years of motherhood with my 5 children and they've all proved me right.

By this I mean that they've neither done things that would be unacceptable to me, nor thngs that would be unacceptable to society.

My children are home-educated and don't go to school. They don't ill-treat other children and don't need to be punished.

I disagree with you about formulating ideas. I think children are capable, given chance, of original thought and of formulating their own ideas. Again, my own children prove this to be true.

7:36 pm, March 02, 2007  

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