Crisis in British Education brings Opportunity

Crisis in British Education brings Opportunity

The current debate in and about British Education is not thinking logically and certainly not out-of-the-box.
The education system is and has been:
– Designed to keep the upper classes on the top, and the lower classes on the bottom

– Designed for the convenience of the employees/ teachers, and not to advance education nor to advance the  students/ pupils

– Lacking automation and efficiency measures

– Teaching stuff most of which became obsolete some years ago

– Where everything is designed towards educating the top 5-15%, and the rest are put on the trash heap (the really intelligent put themselves on the trash heap in despair)

Now that university education is beyond the reach of most mortals who are not in the Cameron/Clegg/Rooney classes, we need radical rethink:

– Examine what is actually taught at university, especially by examining the textbooks

– Examine what industry, commerce, civil service/ public sector, retail and small business need (if they even know)

– Consider from 5 years onwards to completely bypass the whole exam system, since university entrance is no longer a feasible option

– Consider to learn from textbooks using self-learning and group-learning, with some private and paid input from unemployed university teachers and lecturers

– Use not only conventional textbooks, but also e-textbooks, particularly those which can run on conventional dvd player and do not require computer* (most but not all of the poor and the lower classes have dvd players)

– Let government and private initiatives make high quality electronic material available free of charge to all (the same for private schools as for the lowest and poorest person) (this will probably scare the Tories, who are in fact very afraid of open competition, especially when their own children are less intellectually capable)

There is of course a general problem, which affects employment as well as education:  as society and technology become more advanced, there are some skills which are simply not required, e.g.:

– Calculators and computers and even mobile phones mean we don’t need to know how to count above 10.  We don’t need fractions, remainders, arithmetic of any kind

– Keyboards,computers, mobile phones mean we no longer need handwriting – we don’t need to write nor to read handwritten material.  We need to type and to read typewritten material only.  Kids of 5 or even less can learn to type instead of write

– Machine translation means we no longer actually need to learn any foreign languages – very soon affordable devices will perform simultaneous audio/verbal translation for business people and tourists (and will even keep a transcript).  Maybe everyone will only need to learn English (?!).  Mind you, I personally love foreign languages and believe that speaking more than one language is good for the brain.

– Google and other search engines mean that the previous desire to pack a huge amount of useful and useless knowledge into the skull of 17 year olds is now pretty much a futile endeavour (a bit like continuing with the London Cab-Driver’s ‘Knowledge’ – learning every street in London – in the age of satellite navigation!)

– If and when politicians and especially media barons will stop trying to make everyone hate foreigners, then Religious and Moral Studies may no longer be so necessary – since much of it is a sop to a multiculturalism which Cameron, Merkel and Breivik have declared as ‘a failure’ ( I personally adore and embrace multiculturalism, and believe that Breivik and the other 2 are pathetic and inadequate)

– History and geography can become living studies, using more multimedia.  And thereby interesting to everyone and not only the elite.  Especially if the political nature of society and government through the ages is exposed (without becoming a pseudo-marxist diatribe) (it was and is all about the money!)

What to do with all the time which will be freed up?

Certainly my 3 years of undergraduate university education was pretty much a waste of time – we learned little and what we learned could have been done in much less time if the lecturers had been remotely interested in productivity and efficiency.  Shorter school courses? Shorter college courses? More self study at all levels? 

The main things which students today require are:
– Learn how to learn

– Learn how to be logical

– Learn how to be intelligent

– Learn how to adapt

– Learn how to be fast to learn, adapt and think

– Learn a little bit of everything – maybe in that process one will stumble on what one really wants to do

– Learn how to survive if everything collapses (grow food, make shelter etc)

– Learn how to be innovative (!) And how to think out of the box

– Learn how to be creative

– Learn how to be competitive economically and cooperative organisationally

Most of these can be started at the age of 5 and below.  If properly pursued, then no one will need to go to university – all the good things about university will already have been imparted by the age of 16 or 17.

The general problem which affects society in present day and in future is this:

– As technology develops, the skills which were previously required in the human are now embodied in the machine (the NC machine tool, the office computer, the robot assembly line, the automated engine factory, online computer-driven government and local government services, etc etc etc)

– We are now required to operate and use tools and machines without necessarily knowing or understanding how those tools and machines work

– Jobs are becoming de-skilled – manual and office jobs, and even professional jobs such as lawyer, engineer, architect, teacher, doctor

– Unfortunately this renders us open to wage competition from people around the world, who live and work in societies where the cost of living is much less

– If we are unlucky, this results in the majority of us in the so-called developed countries becoming poor;  if we are lucky, the same thing results in the majority of the people in the so-called less-developed countries becoming also rich like us

– My personal belief is that the present world order where the rich are becoming increasingly ultra-rich is unsustainable neither economically, socially nor ethically, but don’t let that colour anyone’s judgement of the rest of this blog/ paper

So – my summary and conclusion?

Every applecart is due for overturning.  Those in established positions must be very afraid.  Everything must be challenged.  The lower classes must be looked after or allowed to look after themselves, and to prosper.  The rich will always look after themselves, but let them not queer the pitch for everyone else, which is what they have been doing up to and including the present.

This is not the end of the conversation – it is only the beginning.

Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana. Friday 19 August 2011  +267 738 15632

About alexweir1949

software developer, inventor and innovator, Fraud Proof Voting Systems Inventor, founder of Based in Botswana and Zimbabwe, work everywhere.
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