Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Who needs facts?

Via Timmy, it seems that teachers are being fucking thick again. One would have thought that those who teach our young might have more than two brain cells to rub together, wouldn't one?
Children no longer need to know facts about history, geography or science because they can look them up on-line, teachers' leaders have claimed.

Yes, but will they? Unlikely, I think. Besides, as Timmy points out, we have always had such places: they were called libraries. Admittedly, most libraries seem to have a rather larger collection of DVDs than books these days, but apparently one can still get some facts there.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers wants subjects and the national curriculum to be scrapped and replaced with cross-curricular inquiries teaching children the skills they will need for the workplace.

Christ Al-fucking-mighty, where are we—Communist Russia? Is breeding our kids to be good little worker drones the only thing that is important? Is knowledge to be sacrificed on the altar of utility? What happened to the concept of the polymath?
Schools should respond to the needs of employers and not the dictates of central government, the union said in a policy statement issued at the opening of its annual conference yesterday.

Well, sure; I think that schools should be freed from the dictates of central government, though preferably financially and administratively first, but that doesn't mean that knowledge is not important.
"What employers want and the things they always talk about are skills and dispositions," said Martin Johnson, the union's head of education. "They don't want people who know something, because what their employees need to know will change every six months.

Well, yes and no. Mainly no, in fact. What employers would really like first, Martin my little poison-arrow frog of desire, is employees who can read, write and do basic arithmatic. That would be a wonderful start, so is there any chance that you and your colleagues could get off your fat arses, do your jobs and actually get us to a point where we are not churning out even one illiterate child? Pretty please?

And employers want employees who are able to learn new things and to build on existing knowledge, they need people who not only have some ability at knowledge retention, but who can also shift and prioritise that knowledge.
"Knowledge is becoming less and less important as it is more and more accessible, and what's more, because of the knowledge explosion, it is impossible for the state to make a balanced judgment about what knowledge is important," he said.

Well, that might be true, but exactly how good a position is a fucking teacher in to know what knowledge an employer needs, eh? For a body of people who have generally, and consistently, shown themselves to be stuck in the sodding 1970s. Hw exactly is a teacher, the vast majority of whom have never worked in the private sector, supposed to judge what an employer wants, eh?

It'll be a round of symposiums and conferences, with teachers lecturing other teachers on third-hand knowledge that they've gleaned from talking to their local councillor, or some similar bollocks. Gah!
The controversial policy is backed by Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, who admitted at the conference in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, that it was "highly unlikely, but not impossible" that pupils could be at school from five to 16 without learning any British history under the proposed system.

You see, Mary, my wrong-headed little doll,the trouble with t'internet is that there is an awful load of old rubbish out there. Take this site, for instance: anyone visiting here might come to the conclusion that NuLabour are not the saviours of the modern world, that Gordon Brown was very far from prudent and that many teachers were useless, lazy fuckwits whose consistent failure to teach many of their students—or, in many cases, to actually know themselves—the basics of their own fucking language undermined any kind of moral authority that they might have. And that's just pure nonsense, eh?

Besides, if you don't teach your children any fucking facts, who the bloody hell is going to write all that information that's on the web? Or will it be specialised drones, bred to cram all of the knowledge of the world into their vastly enlarged craniums? And if nobody knows any facts, how in the name of fuck are they going to be able to assess the accuracy of any of this online information?
The policy, which is to be discussed by the conference today, also calls for the scrapping of national tests, which would mean a return to pre-national curriculum days.

But, Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the policy was "disturbing nonsense" and accused the union of wanting to return to the "shocking days" when a child's inability to handle words and numbers could go completely undetected.

Well, presumably Mary and co. are arguing that if a child's "inability to handle words and numbers could go completely undetected" then they are skills that an employer doesn't need. It is, of course, absolute rubbish. Unless, of course, we just send 'em all down the pit again (and with some of the little fuckers one hears about, that really doesn't seem too bad an idea, actually).

What happened to the concept of knowledge for knowledge's sake? Surely our ability to retain, bolster and pass on knowledge is one of the things that separates humanity from the beasts? Apart from anything else, people who don't know much are the most incredible bores at parties (although people who think that they know a lot can be too)...


The Moai said...

Is 'what employers want' the sole criteria for what should be on the curriculum?

What is *really* infuriating about this kind of crap is that it assumes that kids don't want to learn about things like history, biology, geography etc. If children are taught by enthusiastic teachers, they'll gain lifelong passion for a subject that is of no direct career use whatsoever. I have no use whatsoever for Chaucerian English in my job, but I have gained immense pleasure form reading Chaucer over the years. In an employer-driven education I would never have had that.

Equally, I find myself devouring history on TV and in books these days, partly because I was taught so little of it at school.

This smacks of 'give the proles enough education to work, and no more.'

Patronising b*stards.

Anonymous said...

"read, write and do basic arithmatic"

we ain't so fick as to let you get that one past us

Anonymous said...

Stuff like this tends to bring out the conspiracy theorist in me. When you have a government who appears to be doing its utmost to stop people thinking for themselves (or making tricky decisions, like how to vote), calls from that same government/administration to simplify the education system and remove pesky concepts like history/philosophy/literature smack of a concerted effort to create a population that will lack the basic tools for critical thought.

Mind you, I'm sure there's no reason for Blair et al to desire an electorate that lacks the ability for critical thought...

Anonymous said...

No conspiracy theory there witchibus ..... pure fact, right-on-the-mark, nail-on-the-head.

EXACTLY what those tossers Bliar, Brown et al. want - dumbed-down clones who have zero ability to question the NuLabour spin and propoganda

Devil's Kitchen said...

I've quoted it before and I'll quote it again: "He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future." 1984, George Orwell


Anonymous said...

Holy. Cow.

dearieme said...

Golly, some schoolteachers really are very thick.

Jim said...

it was "highly unlikely, but not impossible" that pupils could be at school from five to 16 without learning any British history under the proposed system.

That could actually apply to pupils in the present-day system. Education really is on a slippery slope, and I'd expect this kind of rubbish from pols like Charles "learning for its own sake a bit dodgy" Clarke, but not from the teachers themselves. Good God, do they want themselves out of a job?

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