A letter a day to number 10. No 1,425
Friday 06 May 2016.
Dear Mr Cameron,
When I finished school and stepped into the big bad world of work, it was only then I discovered the appalling inadequacies of the education system. I did not know how to vote and had no understanding of politics, I did not know how to apply for a driving license or tax a vehicle, I did not know how to open or manage a bank account, how to write a CV, sit an interview, what a union was nor how to join one or even the benefits of so doing. In short I lacked pretty much everything I required to face the everyday realities of the world I was confronted with.
I could read well enough and write to a limited degree, the former was pretty much self taught as I developed a love of reading early in life and, in the true spirit of learning, I had a hunger for books that had nothing to do with school and everything to do with Biggles. In terms of the real world, my education began once I entered it and a slow torturous process it was too, not least because school had left me entirely learning phobic.
When Caroline Lucas posed some questions to you from the current SATs being inflicted on school children I was completely taken aback. Lucas asked you if you could “explain what the past progressive tense is”, to “differentiate between a subordinating conjunctive and a coordinating conjunctive,” and to “set out (your) definition of a modal verb”. You could not, claiming, “The whole point of these changes is to make sure our children are better educated than we are.” This from someone educated at Eton. However did you manage to become Prime Minister under the burden of such ignorance?
Schools minister, Nick Gibbs, who studied law at Durham, now an MP, similarly failed to answer a grammatical question put to him in a radio interview. In his defence he said, “this isn’t about me. This is about ensuring that future generations of children – unlike me incidentally, who was not taught grammar at primary school – we need to make sure that future generations are taught grammar properly.” Really?
I cannot answer such questions either and for the vast majority of people such knowledge is irrelevant and will remain so for their entire lifetimes and I suspect that children learning this stuff will do so because they are a faced with a pointless test and will quickly forget it and never regret its passing, unless, perhaps, they develop a taste for pub quizzes later on in life.
I can see no point in such rote learning and memory testing and nor can I see any excuse for exposing young children to such dull, uninspiring and bland nonsense. I have no idea what dullard thought this stuff up (was it the odious Gove?), but I cannot see how any child could be inspired to think creatively and inventively or be remotely excited to explore the vast realms and joys of learning faced with such arid examples of what the state laughingly calls education. This kind of stuff belongs where you belong, in the nineteenth century, it has no place in today’s world. Here endeth this collection of grammary stuff.