Thursday 13 January 2011

Education, Education, Relativism

It strikes me as odd how anyone can espouse a relativist viewpoint and not instantly realise that they're talking nonsense. All forms of relativism and the wider Postmodernist 'philosophy' (I always cringe when that non-thought is labelled as such, but I digress), are ridiculous and refuted by simple logic - not that I plan to go through a tedious philosophical explanation. Obviously some things are going to be better, or more worthwhile than others - the rejection of this plain truth seems to be the centre of the current wave of antipathy towards current Tory education policy.

Apparently doing courses that will be of no benefit whatsoever are equal to those that might be use use in day to day life, such as english and maths, or ones that give you a better understanding of the world, like geography, history, economics, the sciences and few others. These courses are the ones which will demonstrably prove valuable to the nations competitiveness and so on. If you want to go on about how much of a valuable investment education is, you need to look to these subjects. Music, for 99.9% of cases, is useless, as is art, as are many subjects not included in the new Baccalaureate.

Numbers of teachers have stood up to condemn the new scheme, notably starting with "hi I'm Joe Bloggs and I'm a teacher" or similar phrases, as if being a teacher automatically means that they know best. But teachers, like the rest of us, believe different things and have different education philosophies and styles. Being a teacher can give you a valuable insight, but by no means does it mean you are automatically right when it comes to education. Appeals to authority are logical fallacies and should be shunned as ridiculous more openly.

I'm not sure of the value of adding in a modern language into the Baccalaureate, if the options are French and German, what is the point? Anyone of import in French or German speaking countries speaks English already, and France is diminishing in importance in global affairs. If the languages on offer were Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Portuguese or Russian, I would see value in it, even Pashto would be fare more useful if we continue our absurd venture in Afghanistan. Most Germans are capable of speaking enough English to get by, and a large number of French can do too, we shouldn't waste our time speaking these languages, the lingua franca is now English, and the chances are it will be for quite a while - French is not likely to make a major comeback, in any case.

Aside from the language thing, the alterations by Gove are very good, so long as the government pays for education. If education is funded by the taxpayer, it should be an investment and an investment only. Subjects which do not have good returns should be dropped. If people want to take up learning to play an instrument, they can do so in their own time and with their own money. I do not want to pay for some kid to learn grade 1 guitar then stop caring. It isn't worth it.

People are on about choice in education, but none of them are suggesting the one and only thing that will guarantee choice - privatisation. Private schools generally have much higher attainment, and the people at them seem much more into the whole education thing. Private schools are typically more focused on the academic subjects outlined by Gove and suggests that he knows what he is on about, but if you want choice, you have to go private. Democratic schools are all private, as are all schools that do anything different to the norm. If schools get free reign but are run by the government, there will always be waste and there will be little incentive to perform well - a state system will always be inferior to a private system.

When people hear the term 'private school' they always think that the poor will be unable to afford it. This is borne out of ignorance. Across the world, it is private schools that teach the poor how to read, those in slums who want to have their kids educated send them to private schools. The reason that in this country the only private schools are expensive are because only premium services can be offered as an alternative to 'free' (or indirectly paid for) schools. If you have a free school, you are likely to send your children to it. Coupled with high taxes and various other disincentives for private enterprise, of course.

You really have two choices. Either you support Gove's plans and aim to make the education system in this country one of value, a real investment or you aim to privatise the system. Any other opinion is morally and intellectually bankrupt, unless someone can show me where my reasoning is lacking of course.

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