A new approach to education

Sir Michael Wiltshaw weems to be breaking ranks and so the last hope of Michael Gove for more Grammar schools is fading. It is refreshing to actually now get some hard statistics instead of beliefs and assumptions.

Sir Michael Wiltshaw says that in a Grammar school only 3% of pupils are on free school dinners and that Ireland, that has a lot of selective education did worst in recent international comparisons than the UK. Article here. However, this 3% figure could be explained by the geographical location of the Grammar schools. We have none in Tower Hamlets with a high percentage of free school dinner kids.  Grammar schools are mainly located in rich areas, hence the amount of free dinner users is low through this. Somewhat the argument of SMW doesn’t quite add up.

I would say the benefit for Grammar schools would be that it weeds out the rich kids that are anyway getting all the chances in life because they are rich. Not so talented rich kids, that do not do well in Grammar schools, will be stopped through the selective process.

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selective purchasing

I came across this article about Patriotic purchasing on the BBC website today. It asks why people are not more actively encouraged to buy British. Being British has always been more of a political than an actually economically powerful thing hasn’t it? What is actually being British today?

This last weekend I purchased items at the Imperial War Museum and thought, why don’t people buy more things there for their kids, as this is so useful to get items for use and support a good cause with the purchase. It seems to be due to advertisement and having to go there to buy it. That’s a distribution and convenience argument that opens here.

Often I prefer German brands especially in white goods. My new boiler came with a Siemens timer and thermostat and was happily installed by a British worker.  There is now a new economic wave of European and especially German engineering in Britain because Siemens has gotten the biggest contract to date recently.

Politically we get the British attitude and economically the German one. There are some good examples where we also can learn from the continent and that is classless education and that could lead to my favoured concept of classless production of goods.

Looking at it, the more the same all goods and services are, the less danger is there that goods produced for certain markets could lack in quality or even have devastating faults. The German education system, that does not or did not know private schooling, when I was a pupil, provided a good all round education for all. It had to, as business owners would not stand for sending their kids to bad schools but their kids were educated alongside the poorest in society and that gave the poorest the equal chance of getting the same quality education as the rich kids did.

Now buying British is not so easy these days because who can afford it? I buy what is cheapest and it is the supply and demand problem. In the case of functionality goods for children, I prefer to purchase those at places like the Imperial War Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Church, Brownies, Scouts, just as long as I can get it when I need it and I am able to go there to buy it.

Unfortunately we have an economic system that thrives on subsidies, which are distributed by expensive public servants, who get paid tax payer’s money. Often goods do not get sold locally but are shipped far away and imported from equally far places. Maybe in the case of fruit and veg can we get some locally grown produce but that is outshone by well polished apples from South Africa.

In fact there is no longer a local economy almost anywhere on this planet and that makes patriotic purchasing very awkward and difficult to do. Our world dominating governance systems ensured that we cannot be locally independent any longer and are part of the bigger picture that mixes and delivers products around the globe.

The comparison of British and German culture

Some progress seems to be made in how Germans are portrait in the British media today because the article published on BBC is less harsh and more detailed than just the usual, “The Germans have no sense of humour” or “don’t mention the war”.

However what I miss is the proper comparison because whilst there is Paddington Bear, Germans have the famous Steiff Teddy, who is probably bigger or as big as Paddington. Certainly it has a big collector’s value everywhere.

The article says there is no small talk in Germany because some parts of a story had not been translated but that seems to be due to the individual who did the translation rather than the whole culture.

I do however agree that basic methods are different but those methods are often also different in average households on both sides of the channel. Some individuals plan forward more and others don’t. Some people use the instructions before they assemble furniture or use a gadget for the first time whilst others don’t. The British are famous for being laid back and enduring, whilst Germans are more planning and direct.

I think there are plenty of comparisons though for the word small talk, for example

The word quatschen, which is a German equivalent for chatting.

Some modern translation use of English words has simply been published by certain media publishers though the use of such phrases is just contemporary publishing but not the true sense of the word, it is a fashion to use certain words in certain circumstances. For example the word Mieze has been translated as Dolly bird when the word Mieze itself is feline and has feminine association and in the German language women can be described as Mieze or Kitten.

It cannot be said that the modern use or translation of English phrases represents the whole of the German culture though, it just shows that publishers use language in their own way, which is not exactly text book German or popular use of the German language.

The word Smalltalk itself is more a particularly cultural phrase, which is associated with a region rather than a word that is transferable itself. Smalltalk is the description of a conversational strategy or ritual. It can simply be translated with Unterhaltung, sprechen.

I am certain German’s know light conversation. The word small talk should be translated as leichte Unterhaltung just as German language knows the word leichte Music.

But the BBC article shows that people get employed for doing the most hilarious jobs.

Is this the taste of Miliband to come?

Of course we all await the expected onslaught from Labour to counter the latest Conservative policies. Today I received in the post a card from Ed Miliband with the title “What are  your priorities?”

Of course I thought, good idea to ask people what they think. But then when I read on, into the mailing that has been sent at considerable expense, I thought it sounded a bit like a space man talked to people on a different planet. And indeed a little down the text, and to my complete amazement I see, what seems to be a grammatical error.

I let you judge for yourself it says: “I know that many people feel that Labour lost touch with British people and so one of my top priorities has to been to get out of Westminster and listen to people”.

Does it appear to you as well as if there has been a copy and paste error or some silly oversight that allowed an extra to that has remained in the sentence. Is that the taste of things to come that the Labour Party will rush into doing things without properly checking that what they do is correct?

I mean it is obviously an error that a little proof reading could have detected. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Labour could have proven to us that they spent money on expensive mailings and give well thought through messages but instead we get an expensive mailing to show us that Labour does not really care whether their mailings are free of errors or not. Is that the party that can lead Britain into the future I ask?

I think I can answer Mr Miliband’s other question about my priorities, which is, I would like a prime minister that doesn’t sent out grammatical errors in expensive mailings, thanks a lot.

At least this mailing is a good explanation as to why Labour doesn’t like Grammar schools, it is because they have problems with grammar.

How good is comprehensive education

I am quite tired of all the rhetoric about education, how good or how bad it is because it is a nightmare to try and educate a gifted child in normal comprehensive education.

I went to WH Smith today to pick up some Revision books in English and Maths for 6 – 7 year olds. The first exercise in English was ‘find all the vowels’ in the words listed below. I did this because child’s school refuses to give homework to children.

OK, I thought easy enough, but had to find out, that, to my complete amazement, that my child never heard of the term vowel before because her teacher never taught her about this. Yet this is obviously perceived to be a normal part of the curriculum for a 6-year-old or it would not be in the revision book for 6 – 7 year olds.

Give me the name of any Grammar school within London and I walk twice around the globe to get a place for my child in that school. I rather travel hours to and from school than keep my child in a dumbness factory locally.

I had asked my child’s teacher whether the child can get some special help to further her learning because the child achieved 2 grades over the expected average learning achievement for his age and been told that “the child is not all that good”. (Observe the linguistic skill required of a teacher to utter the words “not all that good”)

I wonder whether Comprehensive schools see it as their duty to keep comprehensive school children as dumb as possible but keep them in school all day to give them supervision and learn them behaviour that the state feels is acceptable but not to teach the children too much so that they don’t get too clever. Why else would schools not even try to actually teach children?

And to add, just listening to the song, “I’m free to do whatever I want”. that makes me think of course that one has to be fully aware of all the choices to be able to make an informed decision about what one wants to do. Children, who are not educated properly never get the chance to even know what is there waiting for them. I would go so far as to say that it is a crime on children in particular and humanity as a whole not to educate children properly.

Labour ruined education

The full extent of the damage that the previous Labour government did to education over 3 terms in office becomes clear with this new report, which compares the quality of education internationally.

Britain was once the vanguard of knowledge, a leader in academic thinking but now has been reduced to a backroom establishment because education has become so bad. It seems Labour likes it this way because they fight an increase in tuition fees with false and misleading arguments. Haven’t they done enough damage to this nation already, do they have to bring forward further false reasoning.

The increase in tuition fees does not stop anyone from going to university as there is nothing to pay up-front. Students get loans and have nothing to pay unless they earn £21.000 per year.  So why does Labour go on and on about the price rises, its just to make a nuisance argument against improving quality.

Labour really loves to see this country on the bottom of the pile for reasons that I cannot really understand and I suppose nobody in their right mind can.

The UK has fallen as far as 28th place in maths and 25th place in reading and 16th place in science. Is it any wonder that our unemployment is so high and that companies do not want to settle in this  country anymore.

During the last Labour reign the UK has fallen between 2000 and 2009 in maths,from 8th to 28th and in science from 4th to 16th.

The top 10 education systems by reading skills are

  • Shanghai (China)
  • South Korea
  • Finland
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Singapore
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Netherlands

How can Labour’s Andy Burnham seriously try to tell us that education has improved and more pupils leave with good reading skills? Why does Labour succeed in constantly pulling the wool over our eyes? Why are they allowed to blur their lies over public media and mislead the electorate?

Now after reducing education to sub-zero standards Labour wants to oppose an increase in university fees when it is the only way to improve education and help us to pull ranks with other countries.

If we go on as we are the UK will become a small island in the northern European hemisphere without any significance whatsoever. We don’t really want this to happen.

The OECD survey found that  the “best school systems were the most equitable”, in which pupils could succeed academically despite a disadvantaged background. This is a case for Grammar style and academy type education, which focus on academic achievement and a case for allowing students who are not academically gifted to drop out at 14 to enter a vocational career path.

choose at 14 for education

I am pleased that education in the UK promises to go into a constructive direction with proposals to make a change to secondary education, so that it looses the fright of selection.

Professor Smithers determined that it is a lack of skills that forces us to import so many skilled workers from abroad. Our pupils are currently forced to go the academic path till they are 18. Professor Smithers wants to learn from the German model where pupils’ obligatory education stops at 14 and students can divert into learning manual skills and enter apprenticeships or take further training.

Former Education Secretary Lord Baker also supports a changeover at age 14. I am of course well acquainted with this as I grew up with it and at age 14 had the option to continue study at an academy type of school or enter general academic study.

Selection generally is a problem in UK comprehensive education as schools don’t want to be seen selecting, but in practise they have no choice but divide classes into talent groups and put the pupils onto tables that cater for their educational talents.  We see reading books divided into talent categories, like with the Oxford Reading tree and pupils being given the level of reading difficulty they deserve.

Education cannot do without selection, schools can neither measure educational pace on the slowest or on the fastest and cannot force special talent into slower learning, which is detrimental to such pupils.

Of course slow learners, that are currently forced into academic learing till age 18 will have missed the chance to find fulfillment in other career paths, which is a shame. Altogether a great prospect for UK education to make changes at age 14. Source article here.

Richard Brady, chair of Tories 1922 committee

I am so pleased that Richard Brady has become chair of the 1922 committee, even more so as he is in favour of Grammar schools. The schooling was one of my most apparent clashing points with New Labour. Read this New Statesman article about him.

Richard Brady has a very good point, that if his Grammar school would have been a Comprehensive then his parents could not have afforded the mortgage in the catchment area. And indeed it is more than silly to change all schools to comprehensive and force parents to move near one of the better comprehensive instead of doing a Grammar system where there is no such catchment area.  I remember, I walked quite a far way to school each day when I was young.

practical education

I had to smile reading this article “Parents want kitchen class rooms” on the BBC website.

It reminds me of my own education and kitchen classes we received in our business college, would you believe it when I was a teenager. So between economics, business, mathematics and accounting we went to the kitchen to cook a soup or even to a sewing class to learn how to stitch and knit.

Considering that cooking, knitting and sewing are business skills, I fully agree to a change in the curriculum to include such subjects.

The cost of education

I wish politicians looked at the cost of education in a more realistic and rational manner. Whilst we hear that exam results in Scotland have greatly improved, the SAT’S performance in England has fallen.

Yet what does it actually cost to achieve any type of educational result today compared to when I was young and of standard school age?

I went to a school for around 5 hours per day, we had basic desks in the class room and only a few pictures on the wall and got school books from the school. There was no school dinner, we went home at 1pm.

That must have been considerably cheaper than today’s school effort here in the UK. the cost of educating a pupil these days even just to average standards is incredibly high compared to what it was 40 years ago.

We achieved excellent results in less hours, with less material and we were happy and well functioning. Not only are the lesser school hours spent on us significant, but also the level of talent that was assembled in my class, as we were all of equal learning power, we had no slow learners and so the teaching process was swift and efficient, as there was a realistically achievable learning goal for all in the class.

What we see today is a constant frustration in teaching that is caused by wanting to teach pupils things they cannot achieve. Why try and teach a person with a below average IQ that they cannot possibly understand, why teach a person with an IQ 0f 70 about Shakespeare?

It both frustrates the pupil who cannot understand and the teacher who cannot make understand and all of us because we are constantly presented with failures.

Why not teach the pupil with the IQ of 70 things he can learn, like cooking, cleaning, reading simple words, learning how to interpret common sineage, add simple sums, and teach the complicated stuff to pupils with an IQ of over 100 or more (for example).

It is not surprising that 75% of UKs prisoners have a learning disabilty and have been ill-equipped to cope and end up being locket up in a jail because they cannot cope with life as they have not been equipped with the skills to understand how life works in a basis that they can understand.

Yet in business the principle that the customer is always right is applied but when it comes to children that cannot understand what is to come for them in life, we assume that what we do to them is right and they have no say in the matter, and we treat them like objects to be kept save behind lock and key when our fruitless efforts to teach them what they cannot understand went wrong.

It is much more realistic to educate according to academic ability and perception and stream pupils and if pupils are able to learn simple things then they are happy that they learned something well instead of being constantly unhappy about not being able to learn something they cannot understand.

If its not that simple logic that convinces you, then it should be our inability to keep on paying for things that do not show any reward for us, and are not economically viable.

It seems we send more and more parents to work so they have less time for their children, so that they can be sent to schools that cannot teach them properly. Why not have less people working and more adults available to care for children at home instead?

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