14 April 2007

Schools in the good old days

Celia Green as guest author, commenting on the motivation of modern 'educators'.

The fact that the educational system cannot manage to teach basic skills (literacy and numeracy) by the age of sixteen is being taken to justify an even longer period of supervised incarceration (up to the age of eighteen).

Actually this demonstrates that modern ‘educators’ are not motivated to instil basic skills. It is not what ‘education’ is about, in their eyes. If it was, the objectives could be reached with far less deprivation of liberty and far less expense to the taxpayer.

My parents, for several decades of the last century from the 1920s onwards, were teachers in East London schools where the children, who would nowadays be described as ‘poor’ or ‘underprivileged’, mostly fell within an IQ range of about 85-110. I never heard of any problems with achieving literacy by the end of primary education.

On one occasion my mother, in her twenties, was sent as a supply teacher to a school in Dagenham and found herself confronted by a large class of children of primary school age who were unable to read. My mother believed in teaching children according to their ability. She divided the class into A, B and C groups and put up screens so that she could teach them separately.

A month or so later, a crowd of women were seen at the school gates. The teachers viewed the rather rough local population with some apprehension, and speculated about what they might be wanting. ‘Oh well,’ my mother said. ‘I’m going out to have my lunch anyway.’

It turned out that the crowd was a deputation of mothers who had come to thank her because quite recently their children had been unable to read, and now they all could.

There is a modern tendency to blame parents for the poor educational achievements of their children within the system.

The fact is that modern teachers, on the whole, are often more interested in social engineering, psychological manipulation, and ‘intervention’ generally, than in actually teaching anything.

My mother frequently had to teach children whose home circumstances were very bad, and I am sure there were many children in East London who owed their literacy to her. She particularly remembered one little boy, who used to fall asleep on his desk because he had spent the night at home in the broom cupboard, listening to his father beating up his mother. My mother would let him sleep until he woke up, and then call him to read to her. When he left her class, he could certainly read, as could all the other children who passed through it.

Nowadays, I suppose, he would have been taken away from his parents and put into ‘care’, to take his chance on abuse from those who get into supervisory positions in children’s homes, and perhaps from foster parents. The expense to the taxpayer would be considerable, and his chances of learning to read would very likely be worse than they were in being left with his genetic parents, from whom he would probably not have wished to be removed, and the educational attentions of my mother.

If the educational system is so bad that it cannot achieve adequate literacy and numeracy by the age of 16, there is no reason to think that two more years of it will do more good than harm.


Paul said...

"She divided the class into A, B and C groups and put up screens so that she could teach them separately."

She'd probably be hauled over the coals for that, today. No doubt on the grounds of reinforcing low self-esteem or some such mumbo-jumbo.

One is led to believe that the "good old days" never actually existed, and that Britain was the most unremittingly hellish place until the neo-Marxists arrived and saved us all. Dr. Green's account was a breath of fresh air. It was strikingly similar to one I'd heard recently (from a lady somewhat older than Dr. Green): in primary school, her teacher also split the class into three groups. Both children and parents accepted it as being the best way to proceed. Everyone left her class able to read. This was in a poor town in the Welsh valleys during the early 1930s.

And though the teacher was extremely strict, the class was nevertheless very fond her. As I'm sure was the case with Dr. Green's mother.

Roger Thornhill said...

If you are cardiovascularly unfit, have short tendons due to lack of mobility and stiff joints from lack of use then walking, running and any kind of exercise is going to be something you take pains to avoid.

Kids not reading well by the end of primary school are similarly hobbled. Is it no surprise that education then becomes a chore best avoided?

p.s. My mother, aunt, my siblings and myself all had contact with an excellent, strict, ferocious yet utterly professional, dedicated and skilled teacher, in leafy Woodford - Mrs Coin. Made Peggy Mount seem like Pat Coombs, yet everyone respected and loved her for what she did - teach.