Who does not love learning something new? I know I do and these days we have so many opportunities to satiate our lust for learning. Alas for most children they do not get to learn very much as they go to school. Why this is still the case remains a mystery. There can be no logical reason for herding children together who have nothing in common other than the fact that they were born around the same time and live in the same area. It is a patently silly idea that has never worked and never will work. Successive governments keep coming up with some novel idea they claim will make it work – usually involving doing more of what is not working now… more testing, longer hours, shorter holidays etc.

Learn!

Fortunately here in the UK one need not bother with such nonsense. The law requires that parents provide their children with a suitable education. This can be in any form that suits the child and the family. Attendance at school is not a legal requirement. The original thinking was that there would be an education service along the lines of the health service – available to all as and when required.

A good school, in short, is not a place of compulsory instruction, but a community of old and young, engaged in learning by co-operative experiment.

The Hadow Report (1931)

Such a radical idea was crippled by the machinations of the church, existing school system and the limitations of post war funding and was, alas, never realised in the 1944 Education Act and that “triumph for progressive reform” was a pallid interpretation of what was envisaged and possible.

One looks forward to the day when the nonsensical schooling system is disrupted and we can start to build something better.

Only in the bizarre (as in anachronistic, educationally limiting and often damaging, economically draining and environmentally indefensible) world of mass schooling in the 21st century would looking something up on the Internet be considered cheating. To quote Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive, Becta,

“Equipping our current and future generations with the necessary skills to compete in a digital world is crucial to our future. Through innovative programmes such as Home Access, Becta is driving this development.  We can see in schools and colleges across Britain how the use of technology breeds greater success for students and teachers alike.”

Quite.

Or from a Microsoft Word document (No! Don’t laugh!) linked from the DCSF site, but without any indication what it is or who created it or when it was created (No! Don’t laugh!) ….

Gone are the days when young people spend endless school days poring over dusty textbooks. Learning is now interactive, sophisticated, and engaging.

Ho hum!

Last weekend threw up an interesting contrast. On Radio Three’s Private Passions available on iPlayer (until 6th December) Bill Bailey described his schooling (the independent King Edward’s School, Bath) where his talents were recognised and encouraged. On the other hand since her first audition for the X Factor:

one felt that Stacey Solomon had somewhere along the line been failed by the school system. Is the King Solomon High School (motto: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14) really meeting the requirements of Section 7 of the Education Act 1996? If you delegate the education of a child to the mass schooling system do you have any redress when that system fails the child. As Ms Solomon enters the X Factor semi-finals (and, one hopes, ultimate victory) one can only wonder at the countless other children who have been failed by such a piss poor system. If only there were some form of education otherwise than by schooling….