16 April 2007

How to sell conscription

Guest author Paul on what sort of propaganda might be used to promote the scheme of extending compulsory education.

So, how are they going to do it? How will this government (or indeed any similarly minded successors) convince people that coercing young people and infringing civil liberties is in fact a good thing?

Well, firstly, there will be a concerted effort on the part of the government to denigrate the alternative. Hence not forcing over-16s into training will constitute the most scandalous neglect of our children. Of course, the proponents of this scheme will refrain from using the word "children", but the implication is clear; young people of seventeen and eighteen should be regarded as minors who cannot be trusted to discern what is in their own best interest, and so the state (since apparently even their own parents cannot be trusted) must take control.

A nice example of this approach was Alan Johnson's statement:

"It should be as unacceptable to see a 16-year-old in the workplace without any education or training as it was to see a 14-year-old, which used to be quite common before the Butler education act [1944]."

Since he can't actually use the term "child", he depicts a person of sixteen as necessarily existing in a completely childlike state. In this instance, of course, he overreaches himself, scoring an own goal with amusing earnestness. The only reason why a sixteen-year-old would have no "education or training" is because eleven years of compulsory schooling has been a complete waste of time for them. This is indeed the case in the state system for a depressingly large
and apparently ever-growing number of young people. Yet Mr. Johnson's remedy is not to question why this should be, but to say that nanny knows best and to prescribe another two years of state-enforced "learning".

Note also the implication that in a civilized society it is unacceptable to see someone of fourteen in the workplace. That's another assumption which should certainly be analysed, perhaps in a future post.

1 comment:

Roger Thornhill said...

My Mother left school at 15 and began work in an office. My Grandfather left at about 12 - he was working on Model T's and Panhards. He also joined the Army, lying about his age at 16 and went to France in WWI. Got gassed in one lung, lost all his friends and spent much of his time picking up what reamined of them while not being shot (on purpose) by the Germans - lesson: people are not the Enemy, but governments and religion.

Quite frankly, a school should be able to refuse to teach unruly individuals after 14.

"thrown out onto the street"? No, they are clawing their way towards it already.

As I said before, the best way to keep people in is to leave open the door. If there is nothing to rebel against, they cannot "fight" the school and can only attend with the School's consent. Makes education a privilege, not a punishment.

The shift in power over the last few decades is what makes the school beholden to a sulky monster who does not want to be there, so they bait the organisation they hold in contempt. The boot needs to be put back on the correct foot.