Education is the Key to Success - Unobtainable in our State Schools
The more I read of modern history, particularly that of the UK, the more I realise how the working-class population have been deliberately deprived of a good education, and that that situation still persists to this day. The reason for this is solely because our leaders don't want too many people who can think and analyse, let alone achieve success.
An example of this can be taken from both world wars of the twentieth century.
Almost all the officers were from what we call 'public' schools (actually 'private' would be a more appropriate term) which are only open to children whose parents are wealthy, usually with 'connections' or whose children are exceptionally clever and can obtain a scholarship, as was achieved by Boris Johnson, the 20th 'Etonian' Prime Minister (but how many working-class parents would even know how to apply for a scholarship and be able to finance all the 'extras' demanded by such a school? I understand that Eton College charges up to around £42,500 per year in fees alone; more than the vast majority of working-class families earn in a year).
These schools were, and still are, on a totally different educational and social plane to state schools which are now highly politicised and designed to prevent working-class people from ever rising to the top, regardless of their ability. These elite schools also give their pupils an education far above the standard achieved by state schools. This is helped by a much lower teacher to pupil ratio and smaller class sizes.
A typical example of this elitism is described in Winston's War – Churchill 1940–1945 by Max Hastings (see footnote 1) where he writes "The Secret Intelligence Service was directed by Brig. Sir Stewart Menzies "C," a quintessential officer and gentleman, former president of "Pop" (see footnote 2) and captain of the cricket team at Eton, Life Guardsman and member of White's club. Menzies owed his appointment to Halifax (see footnote 3).
When one considers the massive blunders committed by some of these senior people, (including Sir Winston Churchill (see footnote 4) and Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery (see footnote 5) during both world wars which almost always went unpunished or were even deliberately ignored and then compare them to the much lesser actions or minor blunders committed by the lower class soldiers who were usually courts martialled and even executed for their comparatively minor 'crimes' one can see that these people live in totally different world to the rest of us. More on this topic can be read at URL: http://www.alsblog.co.uk/Class_Discrimination.html
During WWII my father served in the RAF. Now my father wasn't a particularly 'bright' man although he was a very hard-working practical man – a working-class tradesman (born in 1923). Compared to me, he had been poorly educated although he was fully literate. He had attended the local 'council' school where (he told me) pupils used a piece of chalk on a slate to do their writing and numeracy work. My mother (born in 1922) was very 'bright' and could have achieved a great deal in academia but was prevented from even going to a higher-level school even though she had been offered a place based on her examination results. This was because as soon as she was old enough to leave school, at the age of 14, she had to find a job – working on the sweet counter in Woolworth's. Her father stopped her going any further and insisted she found a job and brought home some money as poverty was a significant problem in those days and any additional education would have perhaps been too much of a struggle to finance and support. No doubt being female didn't help her cause either.
The RAF pilots, commissioned officers, for example, were almost all from the top-notch 'private' schools of their day and had all been highly educated as well as having all the 'right' connections to obtain their commissions. What a difference in their educational level compared to my father. For much of the war there were a few pilots without that 'private school' background but these were only allowed to be NCOs – Sergeants. It was only in later days that all pilots became commissioned officers.
As already mentioned, 'connections' play a significant role in determining the future of any young person. 'Old Etonians' for example, will always rise to the top of the pile as they have the right connections and 'class' regardless of their ability – they are also taught to "talk a good job" especially if they are considered rather inept at doing anything useful or particularly demanding. Look at the background of the people who fill the most senior roles in the country and where they have been educated and you'll see they are from schools such as Eton, Harrow, Charterhouse, Warwick or other such illustrious school followed by Oxford or Cambridge universities or the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Being a member of one of the secret societies, such as the Freemasons also helps.
I believe that my generation has been the only generation to receive a half-decent education. Since then, standards have gradually been lowered until even a university bachelor's degree is almost worthless compared to one earned in the 1960s through to the 1980s.
My own daughter is a classic case of this as she obtained an almost worthless honours degree in 1997 from an unrecognised university which never resulted in a job offer in her (somewhat useless) area of study at all. In fact, when I read her thesis towards the end of four years of reading at her chosen university, I was astonished at the poor standard required to obtain her degree. I considered it to be little more than I would have submitted to my secondary school teacher for a 'project' that I would have worked on over just a few weeks (in fact, even just doing my science homework for the week usually resulted in me hand-writing about ten full pages of text and drawings on quarto size (10x8 inches) paper after carrying out a lot of research and reading). After attending university for four years, racking up a huge debt, she was left with nothing worthwhile. She started working in a completely unskilled job, worked hard and studied National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in order to start climbing the ladder to a tolerably acceptable position – which she could have done four years earlier and with no debt to furnish. Just an example of the ridiculous world of education in which we live, the latest headline (14 September 2020) states:
University of Glasgow launches world’s first
‘centre for fantasy’
As though anything further from the real world of jobs is needed. Read more (if you dare!) at URL: https://inews.co.uk/news/scotland/university-of-glasgow-centre-fantasy-literature-dungeons-and-dragons-game-of-thrones-644860?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=inewsletter%20-%2014%20September%202020&utm_term=inews
I have seen this lowering of standards even in my own profession in engineering. Back in that era one could obtain Chartered Engineer status with an HND qualification and suitable experience. Later, a bachelor's degree and suitable experience became the minimum standard. Nowadays, a master's degree and suitable experience is the usual minimum standard required. This tells me a lot about the decline in educational standards during the last half-century. It is not that the Engineering Council has increased its minimum standard of education. It is a recognition that the education system is now so poor that in order to maintain the required standard for a chartered engineer a higher-level qualification is now necessary to reach that original standard.
Very recently, I was chatting with the head teacher of my son's school (a wonderful lady whom I regard very highly and who does all she can for her pupils despite the restrictions imposed by our politicians) and she informed me that they were thinking of removing some parts of the syllabus in order that the children, who have been largely deprived of a considerable part of their education this year because of the world-wide pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, could obtain a certificate. I told her that I thought this was a very bad idea and that, instead, the school day should be extended by an hour or even extra lessons taught on Saturdays. We should not, under any circumstances, lower our education standards as they are far too low as it is. Just what is the point of issuing worthless certificates?
I'd also like to add that I truly believe that there are many subjects taught in our high schools that should be dropped completely as being a waste of serious education time – especially now at a time when the pupils are trying to catch-up on what they have missed because of the pandemic. In fact, these subjects should be dropped altogether instead of removing important parts of the syllabus as mentioned above. I'll give some examples of subjects that should be dropped: PE (all sports), music, art and religion, to name just four. These should be considered to be extra-curricular activities and, if required at all, taught outside the 'normal' school hours – after school and at weekends. I did request that my son be excused from any further religion lessons because, at a supposedly Christian school (Church of England), the main focus has been on Islam and a mention of other religions. He now doesn't believe in any religion at all – so much for a Christian school! I'm not impressed. Of course, this is largely the fault of our political leaders who live in a different world to us commoners and who want a secular state, not the Christian country in which I lived as a child. The real decline in standards, both moral and educational, really started in 1963 and has continued ever since. I might add that everyone I've spoken to from that era all say the same thing. It was the year when The Beatles (and Beatlemania) became really popular.
Religious and cultural integration just doesn't happen despite the claims and expectations of these politicians from a different world – so they try to delete religion from the equation, just as did the USSR in those far off days of cold war times – and religion has made a massive comeback since 'the wall' was brought down – in Russia and throughout the countries of eastern Europe.
One of the comments that my son made recently is that he is not being taught anything useful in preparation for life outside school. As an example, he said that nothing is being taught about how to budget your money, investing money, the stock market, mortgages or even pensions, let alone how to make money or run his own business – and not even about real career opportunities that might exist. The school does have a 'careers evening' but there is little there worth mentioning and certainly doesn't cover a wide range of opportunities beyond the military, NHS and a few other local firms such as BAE Systems and an accounting firm.
I suggest that one of the problems that exist in schools is that most teachers have never actually left school themselves. Their career path has often been: school / university / school. That's it. How can they know much about the big wide-world outside school?
An example of this is this observation was made by my son's headteacher only yesterday when she informed me that my son "is far more widely travelled than I am. He has had experiences that are way beyond those of many of his peers. We need to help him to find his own identity and a true sense of purpose".
A few years ago, we were talking to a lady of Indian origin who informed us that she too had observed that the education standards here in the UK were so low that she was going to send her children back to India for their education. As I understand it, much of the Indian education system is based on how ours was during the early 1950s and 1960s – when we really did have high standards.
I was at school at a time when the GCE (General Certificate of Education – introduced in 1951) 'O' (Ordinary Level) exams were being used as a measure of educational success before going on to 'A' Level (Advanced). Very few pupils at what were then called secondary schools studied beyond 'O' Level. Those pupils in grammar schools were encouraged to go on to 'A' Levels but few pupils went to university in those days – as they didn't meet the standard (now lowered so that nearly everyone can attend). Towards the end of my time in school the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) was introduced (the first exams being taken in 1965, the year I left school) which were of a much lower standard but enabled even thick children to obtain a certificate of some sort – much like bachelor's degrees are handed out today. The GCE 'O' Level was abolished in 1987 to make way for GCSE exams (see footnote 6) which I believe are a compromise between the two standards – mainly the lower standard. These have been the subject of reform several times since their introduction making it even more confusing for both pupils and prospective employers.
On the subject of university. Back in the days when I was a youngster, few working-class people went to university. I don't think many children at state secondary schools even knew what a university was, let alone aspire to attend one. Most young people of my era left school at 15 or, if they took 'O' Level exams, 16 years old. Most went on to take apprenticeships or jobs for unqualified youngsters. Some of my peers went on to apprenticeships although many went through their working life doing unskilled work. Those unskilled people I knew about worked as a building site labourer, one worked in a warehouse and one even became a grave-digger. One person was too lazy and thick to even survive his apprenticeship as a motor mechanic so married a nurse, produced four children and lived on welfare benefits for most of his life before being forced into work once his benefits were reduced and so he became a supermarket trolley pusher. Others, more skilled, went on to become motor mechanics, a painter and decorator, electricians, plumbers and brick layers. One lad I used to sit next to in class had only one arm – he went on to become a Chartered Accountant and run his own, highly successful accounting firm. There were other success stories too but none resulting from a university education.
For those few who did attend university, the world was their oyster. Having a bachelor's degree opened doors so far that you only had to walk through them in order to get a great job. I well remember a thick book that was published in those days (I particularly remember seeing the 1971/2 edition) entitled The Directory of Opportunities for Graduates. This was a real eye-opener for me to read. It shed light on careers that I'd never even heard of, let alone aspired to - and almost any degree would do in many cases.
In those days of high standards and good education, and so unlike today, young people were paid if they were offered a place at university, or even college. Their fees were paid and they received a grant to help towards their living expenses. In those days there were relatively few universities as there were technical colleges, colleges of technology, polytechnics, teacher training colleges and many more that weren't considered to be universities. Nevertheless, education at a high standard was realistically available to those who met a certain standard (apprentices had their college fees paid for them by the company who employed them). This is quite the opposite now, where young people are expected to pay the very high university fees and living expenses themselves and get themselves into serious debt at an early age through student loans - only to obtain a degree that is hardly worth the paper on which it is printed when it comes to finding a job or developing a good career. Many of the former colleges are now called universities regardless of the standards they achieve. Dishing out worthless certificates to anyone who can pay the fees is now their main requirement, as is marketing useless courses that don't help their students find a job after three or four years of study – courses that only serve to keep their useless lecturers employed. In fact, when I visited one of these useless universities a few years ago I was so astonished by their general ineptness and insulted by the conduct of one of their lecturers that I made an official complaint - not a university that I'd recommend to anyone.
One of the indicators of how bad things really are has been the eye-opening I've received through Grace attending college for the last few years. The level of sheer incompetence shown by both the administrative staff, as well as the lecturers, has been mind-blowing. Even the advertising has been shown to be so poor with regards to the English language that I wrote to inform them that, as a college, they should be at the forefront of perfection. My letter (see footnote 7) was ignored (as have been a number of e-mails sent to the staff of my son's school).
As I told our son's head teacher yesterday, my son can hardly write, and certainly can't spell (he's also seriously poor at maths – not even knowing his multiplication tables) and this is a disgrace at the age of 15 years. One of the factors that has caused this is that the school insists almost all work that the pupils have to undertake is carried out on an iPad – therefore they don't get to practice their writing skills (or spelling) any more – a serious decline in standards yet again. I might add that most questions required to be answered by the pupils are of the 'multiple-choice' type and therefore little writing is ever required even for examinations. 'Ticking the box' also makes life a lot easier for teachers as these exams can be marked by the computer without the teacher having to read many pages of written text as was the case when I attended secondary school.
Talking with my son only this morning (5 September 2020) has distressed me considerably regarding our poor education system. He is extremely intelligent and asks the most searching questions and would no doubt do well in a non-state school because this would be recognised and encouraged. Instead, during the last four years he has spent in a state high school, he has gradually lost motivation and enthusiasm to the point where he can hardly be bothered any more. I did try to place him in our local 'private' grammar school but they were already fully subscribed and had a long waiting list so there was no chance of getting him a place there. It is obvious from this that most other parents are also so disgusted with the state system that they want their children to be properly educated even if it means a great deal of financial sacrifice to obtain that education.
Our own experiences confirm this as our son received some education in a 'private' school, this being the International School of the Hague in The Netherlands when we lived there. There standards were so much higher than they are in this country – and the children were expected to work much harder in order to achieve them. It might come as a surprise to know that English language standards were much higher in this school in The Netherlands than in state schools in the UK, and the children are taught the vocabulary and way of speaking of the middle and upper-class people with whom they mixed. Our son was shocked to the core, and still is, by the way children in the UK state schools speak. He has told me a number of times that his English is deteriorating as a result. In addition, there were many more extra-curricular activities at this international school. It was also the only school to recognise that our son has some learning difficulties and was prepared to do something to assist him – something all his UK state schools have ignored despite our requests for them to help him. The connections he was making there, also important, are another story – many diplomats and ambassadors children attended this school as The Hague is a top place for many such people to live.
My son was telling me only this morning (something he has told me a number of times in the past) how he used to ask lots of questions in class (in his state school) because he wanted to learn. Instead, he was knocked back time and time again and told not to ask so many questions. One teacher limited him to asking five questions in an hour-long lesson. Another of his teacher's even shouts at him and tells him he should already know the answer to his questions. One teacher didn't have an answer for his some of his questions at all. He no longer asks questions. He keeps his head down and keeps a low profile waiting for the end of the school day. Is this how low our education system – and our teachers have stooped? What a disgrace. Is it any wonder that our children leave school knowing almost nothing? Eleven years at school to no real useful purpose. What a waste of their young lives – and how are they expected to recover from the mess that our state education provides?
The truth is that the state doesn't ever want them to recover. The state wants chained serfs, not free spirited highly educated thinkers. As Napoleon said "Good politics is making people believe they're free". A good education system would perhaps allow our people to be too free for the liking of those in power. Like my son, they would ask too many questions and demand answers – the truth; not the usual lies promulgated by politicians. As it is, there are more than enough lies taught to our children in school. Believe me, brainwashing in our schools (as well as in our adult world) still continues to this day just as it did in Hitler's Germany. Of course, my son is knowledgeable and intelligent enough to realise this but he isn't allowed to question it. Oh dear no. That would really rock the boat too far, as he once found when he questioned the outrageous lie he was being taught to believe. Any attempt to change this situation is totally ignored – as I have discovered too. The day that my son is able to leave school can't come quickly enough for him and for us as a family. Of course, where he goes from there remains to be seen as he will never, ever, get a top job with his lack of education (and lack of contacts) despite his ability and intelligence (which aren't appreciated in his state school). As I've said to him a number of times in the past "I wish I had your brain, my son". Sadly, his brain, and therefore his life, is currently being wasted.
Our state education system (school, college or university) is not serving our children well.
Note 1: Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings; educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year – source: https://en.wikipedia.org/
Note 2: Eton College is an elite school and The Eton Society, known as "Pop", is Eton College’s most prestigious club - an even smaller elite within an elite school – one that elects its own members who form not just an exclusive network but one that doesn’t always admit the members you might expect; David Cameron, for instance, was not a "Popper" – source: https://www.express.co.uk/expressyourself/235077/A-very-exclusive-club-called-pop
Note 3: Lord Halifax - educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford; elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
Note 4: Churchill began boarding at St. George's School in Ascot, Berkshire, at age seven but was not academic and his behaviour was poor. In 1884 he transferred to Brunswick School in Hove, where his academic performance improved. In April 1888, aged 13, he narrowly passed the entrance exam for Harrow School. His father wanted him to prepare for a military career and so his last three years at Harrow were in the army form. After two unsuccessful attempts to gain admittance to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, he succeeded on his third. – source: https://en.wikipedia.org/
Note 5: Educated for a term at The King's School, Canterbury, then St. Paul's School followed by the Royal Military College, Sandhurst – source: https://en.wikipedia.org/
Note 6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Certificate_of_Secondary_Education#:~:text=GCSEs%20were%20introduced%20in%201988,A-Levels%20or%20university%20degrees
Note 7: Do you really expect your college to be a credible place of higher education when your advertising brochures (one attached) are written in such poor English?
All comments on my blog should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org