Sunday, October 19, 2008

A standing ovation...

... for Miss Snuffleupagus for her 20 points to reform the education system, almost all of which are spot on, as far as your humble Devil is concerned. A few highlights...
2. Always set and stream classes. Always.

16. Class size doesn’t matter when the system creates children who want to learn, but would be best for the sake of the teacher’s workload not to go over 30 in top sets and over 20 in bottom sets.

These two are linked; as I have repeatedly pointed out, up until A Level, my classes at Eton were in the mid-twenties and it simply wasn't a problem. When you have people who want to learn and who are of much the same ability, controlling such a class size is not a problem.
4. Ban Diane Abbott from speaking full stop. And stop the media from encouraging a racial divide. Oh, and ban Polly Toynbee too. In fact, let's just throw them in a prison cell together... :)

As regular readers will know, I'm not going to argue with that. Except that there are many authors who continued to write from prison, so I'd like to recommend that Polly Toynbee not be imprisoned, but hanged in the public square. We'd all be a lot happier.
9. Stop the madness of judging schools by results and realise that this is not the measure by which schools should be judged.

Quite so. The reason that Eton is a good school is not simply because of the teaching (which was often patchy in any case) but because you could do anything and everything outside the classroom. I, for instance, spent the vast majority of my last few years wielding an oxy-acetylene torch, building metal sculptures. And I produced and starred in a two-hander play too.
8. If children are not behaving themselves, parents are held to account, and forced to attend parenting classes. This would happen from a young age. Parenting classes should be mandatory anyway, for any first-time parent. If you don’t like the rules, then don’t have a child. In fact, as much as this will sound like madness to those of us in the West, we should follow in China's footsteps and put a limit on the number of children people are allowed. Two works for me.

I don't subscribe to this really, but I do, as regular readers will know, believe that we should cease all forms of child benefit, including (most importantly) giving priority on the housing list to people with a child. Abolish the fucking lot. Incentives matter. And it would be even better were it combined with this...
14. Stop the state from handing out flats and money. Encourage the media to return to the days when people were held responsible for their children, their situations, their successes. Stop feeling sorry for people and raise our expectations!

15. Ban free education. Everyone has to pay – something. All textbooks, exercise books etc must be paid for. How much one pays in fees may be decided by one’s income. There would have to be a system – like the tax system.

What is free (or perceived as free) isn't valued; so, make people value education by making them pay for it. But, some will scream, poor people won't be able to afford a child!

Yeah. And. So. What?

So, only successful people will be able to afford children: seriously, who cares? And no, it's not social engineering: it is simply stepping aside and letting people make their own decisions based on the incentives. Paying people to have kids is social engineering, however. Having impoverished, feckless parents benefits neither society nor, rather more importantly, the children themselves.

Can't afford a child? Fine, either keep your legs together (or your cock in your trousers) or, more realistically, use one of the twenty billion different methods of contraception out there. For fuck's sake, did you know that you can get a little contraceptive stick put in your arm that only needs to be replaced every three years? Wake up, people: not getting pregnant is not fucking difficult.

And don't give me this cock about "who's going to wipe your arse when you're old" either. The market will provide: we have about four million unemployed at present (including those on Disability Benefit) and if we have a shortage of carers (auxiliary nurses, as they are sometimes called) then prices will go up and make doing the job worthwhile. Seriously, wiping shit and stuff like that isn't a difficult job: it has its downsides, but there are plenty of upsides. Believe me: I know, because I've done it.
11. Allow schools to make up their own criteria for entry. Parents would be forced to compete with each other for places in schools, over meaningful criteria - not whether or not you live near a school or have a sibling that goes there.

Quite. In fact, adopt the Swedish voucher system. That entails privatising all schools entirely (which would allow Snuffy's #20 to occur), scrapping the LEAs and other interfering government bodies, allowing schools to set their own curricula and entry requirements and allowing parents the freedom to choose (without any constrictions) which school to send their children to. We can see that it works: there is no excuse not to do this, other than the fact that politicians have neither balls nor the inclination to give up the power to shape the population according to those same politicos' personal morals, i.e. thieving, corrupt, evil little bastards.

Everything else on Snuffy's list is so obvious that only an evil fucking idiot—or a politician (yikes! a bit of tautology there)—would quibble with them.

Go read.


Unknown said...

You do make me laugh! Very funny. I know my point about forcing people to take parenting classes (or indeed forcing people to do anything) won't sit well with you. And maybe as you say, simply removing incentives would be enough to stop people who cannot afford children from having them. But I'm not so sure. But maybe that's just something we have to live with.

Prodicus said...

Yes to all the above. The point of writing, though, is to say I popped over to read your earlier post. I found it very moving indeed. Tipping my virtual hat to you - look.

Anonymous said...

My wife has a contraceptive implant. It is utterly fool-proof. Now, you'd a thought this dog-cheap, staggeringly effective contraceptive would be commonly available. It isn't. When we moved and she went to the new GP to have it replaced they'd never heard of it. Seriously. The practise nurse said "That sounds like a good idea!" She had to drive half-way across the county to have it changed.

Anonymous said...

i was with you until the "no free education" bit. presumably that also means an end to compulsory education? so all those kids the underclass have will have NO experience of going somewhere everyday, NO opportunity to learn... things will go from bad to worse very quickly indeed. don't kid yourself they are going to stop breeding, the lack of incentives will take a generation so to kick in, if they do. except, uneducated as they will be by then will they find it easy to not get pregnant?

Anonymous said...

sorry, i don't normally post anonymously, i cm having some difficulties posting from my phone!

Anonymous said...

"So, only successful people will be able to afford children: seriously, who cares? And no, it's not social engineering: it is simply stepping aside and letting people make their own decisions based on the incentives"

Right, so there are incentives but it's not social engineering. How so?

Education is compulsory for children. You're going to charge for education.

Therefore you're taxing parents for each child they have. That's creating a disincentive to have children which will hit the poor hardest.

That's social engineering based on a plutocracy.

So much for being libertarian.

Anonymous said...

"my classes at Eton were in the mid-twenties and it simply wasn't a problem"
My classes in a state grammar school were approaching 40. We all received an education, at least in the sciences, that was way beyond what is achieved today.

The very model of a modern scientific man

Your humble Devil was thoroughly amused by Neil Ferguson's fall from grace, and is very pleased to have found the time to outline Fergus...