Memories are good. History can teach us. Nostalgia is giving up. Standing still is going backwards.
I have written before on other matters, but a few days ago I watched a YouTube link that had been sent to me by a friend. It was a wonderfully thought-provoking short “presentation” called Shift Happens. It took a while to put my thoughts in order. There were lots of wonderful statistics – numbers to make your eyes water.
We have all read about the so-called dumbing-down of the populace and the improvement of exam results by reducing the educational standards as well as the introduction of “easier” subjects.
Where did we come from? Some statistics about the UK in:
That time when the United Kingdom (Great Britain as it was called) was
Richest in the world
Centre of world business and finance
Strongest educational system
World centre of innovation and invention
Currency the world standard of value
Highest standard of living
Starting in the 1950’s, accelerating through the 60’s and gathering speed until today, it has been promulgated by educationalists that selection of the strongest and brightest by passing examinations is wrong. This has been expanded to the belief that for any child to fail at anything will traumatize it. The extension is that one should not set exams as the child might fail and then be mentally scarred for life. If that were true then the present “older generation” must surely be scarred deeply, but they seem quite normal to me.
What is the fear of the educationalists? It takes some research thinking to come to a working hypothesis.
Historically teachers saw their profession as a vocation. It was their aim as successful students to arrive at a respected position imparting knowledge to their charges. These teachers had been successful in the educational system of the day where one was successful and passed or did not achieve the required level and failed. The concept of pass and fail has been removed from the vocabulary of education. The result is that, in order for “all” to be successful, the requisite level must be continuously reduced.
Initially the changes were minute. The students passed with lower levels. The increased number of passes went for so-called easier subjects where correct and incorrect were not words that could be used. However, when we consider mathematics or sciences, the so-called difficult subjects, things change. The student understands the question, can analyze the problem set and answer correctly or not. This means pass or fail. However, in the so-called easier subjects opinion can be expressed, it is not right or wrong, the proportional marking system slides the less successful student into a success position.
What influence has this slow downward movement had over the decades on the educational system?
From rewarding and appreciating success, the average student saw a necessity to move to a simpler subject. The newly qualified teachers had, themselves, gone through a weakening system with a fear that measurement of their own success or failure could be measured by the success or failure of their students.
What easier way to not have to measure than not to have success or failure in their students? What simpler way to justify the aversion to testing in the potential traumatisation and threat to the students if they should fail?
However, such protection of our children is false. Even the children themselves appreciate the win-lose situation. They race each other to win. They know which football team won. They appreciate that no-one remembers who came second and that the winner gets the gold medal, etc…
So, why, in reality, should failure be bad?
In fact to fail and for a real teacher to put the effort to make sure that there is real improvement for the next exam, is true education. Education, ex ducare is Latin for lead out, is the leading or bringing out of the mind to achieve the maximum. The moves downward we have seen are led by an educational establishment that is, itself, frightened of being measured, has projected its fears onto the pupils and under cover of “protecting the weak” and has succeeded in avoiding being measured. They have taught to despise success and aim for mediocrity. They have taught not to appear above the parapet, don’t differentiate by success, just fail in mediocrity, means that all will “succeed”.
So now, the pupils who can only “succeed” exit back into the real world to work in industry and offices. Behold, they are measured; they succeed or fail. They knew this instinctively. As children they were naturally prepared mentally, but after 10 to 15 years in the perverse educational system mentality, they had been given no tools, either to actually and practically succeed or deal with failure. This a crime against our youth. It is a crime against the State. It is a crime against humanity. In fact this type of behavior by the so-called educational establishment is a systematic continuation of human rights violations of astronomic proportions. This is a failure by the educational establishment to instill the desire to be better, to succeed and appreciate success. However, the educationalists in schools are, in the main the ones, who, increasingly succeeded only by being in a “no fail” system and then saw the continuation of the “easy way out” to go into teaching. This has produced a continuous downward spiral of standards.