what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

schools and what they do to you


Here ‘s a nice job – wandering the streets of different European cities and taking photos to illustrate the fashion styles! You can catch the result on Face Style.In fact, I do very much enjoy looking at the theatre which faces in streets give us and sometimes wish that I had the camera with me and was able to catch a face surreptitiously. So well done the Guardian!
A nice example in the Observer of how a serious but well-worn subject can be brought to life with satire and good writing. In this case, the subject is the respective value of schools and universities.
Mitchell has a jaundiced view of schooling and some sympathy apparently with parents who do their own schooling. Inevitably he gets a high response rate to his article (everyone is an expert on education!) – and some good points eg
School teaches you to cope with boredom. It helps you to appreciate your free time. It introduces you to the idea of a working day from an early age, and gives you structure and (important for kids) stability. It teaches you how to deal with conflict, who to avoid, how to cope with really horrible situations then go home afterwards. School (especially with regard to uniform) is a great leveller, and, valuably, is often so rubbish that you're actually glad to reach adulthood.
Personally school was a valuable experience for me. I had the feeling that 1955-60 was the end of a golden period for state schools. We still had streaming – with an examination at age 11 determining whether you went to a the prestige high school – or the secondary modern. Teachers there wore gowns and most commanded fear and respect - even (or particularly) the characters amongst them eg the great English teacher who would frequently raise high his desk lid in front of him to seek solace in a whig of whisky! Classes were small - and almost all the members of our final group went on to make something of their lives eg a national theatre director (Bill Bryden), a star Chelsea footballer (Charlie Cooke), a BBC designer (Alex Gourlay), a paedetrician (Cameron Shepherd), an American academic (Rhoda Urie) etc
Of course, streaming was unfair and wasteful of national talent – and was abolished in the 1960s. And I did later develop an enthusiasm for the anarchistic ideas of Ivan Illich – as set out in his Deschooling Society. And, if you want more on this fascinating writer of the 1970s I have just noticed a festschrift.
The painting is by a Russian realist - Bogdanov Belsky

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