I vaguely remember that when we were in the thick of the fight to keep Badman and Balls out of our families lives that there was a small suggestion, that really we should be looking at getting the state out of education all together. There was much talk about how compulsory education had failed so spectacularly that even Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell couldn’t have predicted the direness of the outcome.
Whether we like it or not, or care to admit it, Britain and America tend to follow much the same path in cultural changes especially in areas of education and the more concerning trends. I’ve come to the conclusion if there’s and idea that is going to harm people America will try it and see it is bad and Britain will see what America has done, and do it anyway. Like the fool that has to learn from his own mistakes, rather than the wise man who learns from other peoples.
Then the trailer for ” Waiting For Superman” goes out and the debate heats up.
A response to the upcoming film in The New York Times Op Ed points to a suggestion that I have already seen and heard many home educating parents make; that educational funding should be with the child and they and their parents then choose where it is spent. If in a state school, then the funding goes there, if private it goes there (probably with top up fees) and if for home education then the family use the money for resources and tutors.
The theory goes that this would force failing schools and poor teachers out of the system. But of course many of us point out the system itself is not only seriously broken, but if Gatto is anyone to go by (and I think he is) the system was designed that way. It has forged the disempowerment of parents to such a degree that now far too many parents shirk all responisbility for their children’s education.
With the advent of Free Schools, which may take off if this Government actually keeps it’s promise to reduce bureaucracy and red tape (we’ll see) then I wonder if we too will face lotteries for children’s education. It’s not a pleasant thought. But then it all seems to come down, not to what and how children learn, and how useful to them the learning is, but which schools will get to tick the greatest number of boxes to look good.
While the question of suitable education is still steeped in politics and boxes to tick I can’t see how any real education can take place. While pushing some children through academic hoops and letting other children leave school illiterate is considered “educational” there will never be a universal suitable education.
In the meantime for many of us, there really is only one option left for our children – and that is get out of state controlled education completely. For some that might mean independent/private schools and for the rest of us there is home education.
Our right to make this choice is made more difficult by the sheer ignorance and deliberate slothful thinking of people who somehow manage to get onto mainstream TV.
Josh showed me a brief clip from BBC’s Question Time from the other night. A woman was stridently insisting (from the audience) that it was the Government’s job to educate our children and they should do something about that. There are genuinely disempowered parents, but this woman was able enough to speak on TV, so I am guessing she is deliberately wanting to hand her children to the state.This silly woman, unfortunately, is not alone in her bone idle view of entitlement. This only adds to the further removal of rights and the ability to exercise those rights of parents who are more vulnerable.
State controlled education is not working in either America nor the UK. Perhaps it’s time to go back to the beginning and remind parents of their right and duty to educate their children, with the state only stepping in where parents can’t do that, or at least the state keeping to it’s limited role so that it can provide that education which some parents might wish if they send their children to school. I think it will mean a complete rethinking of what the purpose of state education should be.
If we don’t move on this problem quickly, then soon we will have a whole generation of parents who are so poorly educated they genuinely wont know how to ensure their children receive a suitable education. Then the state will step in as the silly woman of Question Time demanded.
Is that really the only answer? I hope not.