Jazz and I have a running duel about education which revolves around the value (or otherwise) of non-practical subjects. So perhaps a comment from Iolanthe is relevant? ‘I’ve a great respect for brains – I often wish I had some myself.’ Spoken by a 19thC member of the House of Lords, whose rôle in the burgeoning grammar schools debate in 2016 may prove critical.
Y’see, I would argue that the state education system must cater for all the different propensities our grandchildren exhibit – including brain work. Unfortunately what has happened since the introduction of the so-called comprehensive schools is that people who can afford it buy places at schools which offer better education. That even applies to the remaining grammar schools which increasingly are attended by children from homes who can afford coaching and do best in the 11-plus. And that leaves the rest of the more academically equipped children in local schools whose curriculum cannot stretch them.
The current system also ignores the fact that youngsters develop at different rates – academically, that is. Some fail at eleven but could excel later at, say, fourteen. Looking back I recall my own grammar took in new entrants at the age. (But hey! who’s talking ancient history!?) Understandably the schools themselves might balk at it – how to make room for extra pupils in the third year? Mine did – what’s the problem?
If courses are to suit horses, change is needed. The idea that ‘selection’ is bad for society really is rubbish. Life is about selection in so many ways. Why should education be different?