“Dad, what’s the Point of going to School?”
“So you can learn things and pass exams and get into university.”
“But what’s the point of that?”
“To get a degree.”
“To get a good job when you’re grown up”
Do we, as adults, know any better answers to these childish questions? There are of course many vocational subjects where a degree is a necessary preparation for an adult career. But even there, it often happens that the degree relates only very loosely to the career which follows. A lawyer usually starts with a degree in law, but this may be simply because it is a required qualification; it isn’t necessarily because it’s a firm practical grounding in real law. I’m not a lawyer, but a successful City solicitor has told me that she learned very little at University which helped her with her subsequent career. I wonder how many other lawyers/doctors/engineers/whatever would say the same?
Then there are the ‘softer’ subjects like Media Studies. A career in the media sounds very exciting when you’re eighteen. But if that’s the subject you choose, your teachers are quite likely to be people who have failed to make the grade in the media (where they might have become successful, rich and famous) and been glad to get a job where at least they can earn a living. Since they were not very successful in the media, their knowledge and experience may not be very useful to their students. The old words “If you can, do. If you can’t, teach!” often apply.
Even if you are foolish enough to study a worthwhile but impractical subject like history, and you don’t want to be a teacher or an academic, a degree on your CV does definitely help you to get a job. Ask employers why and they will tell you it’s because anyone who is intelligent and has reached the age of 24 without getting a degree in one subject or another is probably not the kind of person they want to employ. It’s the normal thing to do now, and if you haven’t done it, you must be either too stupid or too unconventional – either way, not what the employer is looking for.
Let’s go back in time to the school years. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the subjects you study there are worthwhile subjects and are well taught. When you’ve studied them, you take exams in them. What do the exams measure? Knowledge and understanding of the subject? Or careful preparation of likely questions, combined with a level head and a good night’s sleep before the exam?
And so on. As parents, can we really feel sure that the production line we automatically put our children through is really the preparation they need for their adult lives? As voters and taxpayers, can we be sure that the schools and colleges we provide for British children are turning out the informed, responsible, public-spirited people whom we would like to have as future citizens? How can we justify the compulsion we exert on children to attend these schools?
We in UKIP need to think about these things. If UKIP is ever in power (and that time may be getting ever nearer) we shall have the opportunity to radically remodel British education. Time to start thinking now, perhaps.
I hope to put forward some of my ideas on this subject in UKIP Daily and I hope others will do so too. As a start, can I make a suggestion? Why not give us the benefit of your personal experience with a few words about your education and how you feel it benefited you (or failed to benefit you) in adult life. And any conclusions or suggestions which you draw from your own experience. Write anonymously if you wish, but it would be helpful to know your age and sex.
If you can find time to write a few words, I have time to read them and (if enough people respond) to write up some general conclusions and hopefully to publish them in UKIP Daily. Please add your comment below, or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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