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February 05, 2007

QotD: British Education

A perverse ideology reigns, in which truth and probity play no part. When marking the children's work, [the teacher] is expected to make only favorable comments, designed to boost egos rather than to improve performance. Public examinations are no longer intended to test educational attainment against an invariant standard but to provide the government with statistics that provide evidence of ever-better results. In pursuit of such excellence, not only do examinations require ever less of the children, but so-called course work, which may actually be done by the children's parents or even by the teachers themselves, plays an important part in the marks the children receive — and it is marked by the very teachers whose performance is judged by the marks that their pupils achieve. The result, of course, is a swamp of corruption, to wade through which teachers become utterly cynical, time-serving, and without self-respect.

A perfect emblem of the Gogolian, Kafkaesque, and Orwellian nature of the British public administration is the term "social inclusion" as applied in the educational field. Schools may no longer exclude disruptive children — that would be the very opposite of social inclusion — so a handful of such children may render quite pointless hundreds or even thousands of hours of schooling for scores or even hundreds of their peers who, as a result, are less likely to succeed in life. Teachers [. . .] are forced to teach mixed-ability classes, which can include the mentally handicapped (their special schools having been closed in the name of social inclusion). The most intelligent children in the class fidget with boredom while the teacher persistently struggles to instill understanding in the minds of the least intelligent children of what the intelligent pupils long ago grasped. The intelligent are not taught what they could learn, while the unintelligent are taught what they cannot learn. The result is chaos, resentment, disaffection, and despair all round.

Theodore Dalrymple, "How Not to Do It", City Journal, 2007-02

Posted by Nicholas at February 5, 2007 01:33 PM
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