trust – tolerance – self-sufficiency

‘You have no idea how delightful it is to be taught’ – after Barnes Wallis

The NHS and the education system are taken together for the moment because both are being destroyed in the same way – highly detailed Governmental interference and the bad management and broken morale that comes with it.  With responsibility respectively for our children and our health, teachers, doctors and nurses etc are arguably amongst the most important people in our lives, yet for reasons of political expediency, they are actively prevented from using their professional judgement about what is best for their charges.

Teachers, for example, are bedevilled by endless, pointless bureaucracy and a suffocating combination of political correctness and ill-considered so-called ‘health and safety’ concerns that forbid the punishing of children for any kind of wrongdoing, as well as preventing them from competing or playing boisterous games.

In addition, to feed a box-ticking obsession with ‘league tables’ and ‘targets’ which borders on the pathological, children are so relentlessly ‘tested’ that the joy of learning is driven from them.  Worse, to pass these tests, they are rote-trained.  Like actors learning to speak a passage in Japanese, they have enough to get them through the moment, but without any true understanding and without the progressive building of a worthwhile corpus of ability and knowledge.

None of this will turn children into healthy, well-adjusted adults full of curiosity, the desire to continue learning, and, above all, the ability to respond to change, which is what true education should develop, it will breed a generation of timorous and sickly inadequates.  It would be interesting to know if anyone has yet done a ‘risk assessment’ on this yet.  It is a betrayal not only of children and teachers, but also of future generations.

As for the NHS, it is sufficient to note that here we see medical priorities being set by the Manageocracy instead of doctors and surgeons, just so that numbers on Government lists will look good.  Whatever (presumably) good intentions might have brought such things about, all that can be said about them is that their practical effect has been appalling with some hospitals achieving almost concentration camp status.

Both the education system and the NHS will be reconstituted so that authority and responsibility pass down much more to the people who truly understand what is needed – those who do the work.  Neither education nor health are suitable for full-blown free market trading and their funding will be reviewed with the intention of obtaining a better balance between the enterprise and efficiency of private enterprise thinking and the traditional ethos of caring and public service that has been so badly eroded over the past years.

Good behaviour will be the norm expected of pupils not something to be specially rewarded.  Bad behaviour will be punished.  Note – punishment is difficult.  It needs to be tailored to the pupil and the offence and such that the pupil would not wish to receive it again.  Procedures for dealing with bullying in particular are often woefully inadequate, not infrequently punishing the victim rather than the bully.  And while formal corporal punishment is barbarous, the right of teachers to physically restrain pupils must be re-examined.

Students in further education will not be required to pay tuition fees, it being wholly unacceptable that young people should begin their working lives saddled with massive debt.  They will return the investment society has put into them through some form of graduate surcharge on their income.

The idea that everyone should have a degree, no matter how fatuous the subject, will be abandoned.  Education will be refocused on ensuring an understanding of core sciences and arts, especially music, and generally tailored more to the abilities and needs of the individual pupil.

Strong emphasis will be placed:

  1. In the NHS:  with transforming it from a National Sickness Service to a true National Health Service by radically improving health education.  A frightening arithmetic is at work here: as the NHS becomes increasingly overburdened by people becoming chronically ill earlier in their lives, so the tax revenues that support it and to which these individuals would have contributed, will fall. The prevention of obesity (see 2 and 3 below), smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases will be major priorities.  (Another grim arithmetic here is the fact that while we suffer an epidemic of obesity, millions are under-nourished, if not starving – there is a profound wrongness somewhere.)
  2. In primary education:  with ensuring that children have a sound grasp of basic maths, reading, writing (including grammar), and that they have regular play and exercise – not for the dubious distinction of attaining ‘sporting excellence’, but to boost self-confidence and to combat the growing problem of obesity.  Apropos this last, inspections will be implemented to identify overweight children and systems set in place to work with parents to address the problem before it becomes serious.  In addition children should be taught: how to look after each other and their surroundings; elementary first aid; about the sources of the food they eat; practical techniques for the avoidance of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.  Homework will not be given – no adult would accept such an imposition as part of their employment, why should children?
  3. In secondary education:  with ensuring that children leave with a sound practical knowledge of maths, English, at least one science, and at least one foreign language.  The pointless alphabet soup of ‘pass/fail’ exam results will be replaced by a simple statement of marks achieved for both course work and exams so that potential employers can obtain a more accurate measure of students’ abilities.  Properly focused physical education will be introduced again to continue combating the problem of obesity and general unfitness.
  4. In further academic education and research:  with ensuring that curiosity, healthy scepticism, learning for its own sake, problem-solving, excellence and intellectual rigour become priorities.  Funding for research projects should not be dependent on their possible ‘practical’ usefulness – all great scientific discoveries have come unexpectedly, fuelled by intellectual curiosity.
  5. In vocational education:  with ensuring that the practical skills needed in construction and engineering are well taught, together with basic business skills, using, where possible, the experience of retired or retiring tradesmen.

HELP AND INFORMATION WANTED

  1. Details of how schools, universities and hospitals are funded.
  2. Ideas for modifying the above and generally re-structuring education and the NHS – preferably from teachers and NHS staff
  3. Examples of the ridiculous/dangerous effects of Government  interfering in the day to day management of schools and the NHS