"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Friday 25 June 2010

Equality of Education

Due to Baby sitting, Builders and House guests [all good things!] I am going to be really lazy and mostly recycle a reply I made to another blog about equality of education in this day and age. No facts and figures, just my opinions!

Socialists have agreed for over one hundred years with the need for equality of education to provide the equality of opportunity and this is something with which successive Labour governments have always struggled.

The 11+ [where it still exists] and similar ‘entrance’ exams often involve extra coaching – paid for by or involving family or friends. The same thing also happens with exams like GCSEs and A levels. Thus so often such exams do not show the real attainment possibilities of students. It can happen that such students can thus be offered a university place on the strength of predicted ‘A’ level results [and these offers also take into account which type of secondary school the student is attending, comprehensive schools getting a lower offer 'rating' than grammars and privately funded education] However the same 'coached' students can often be seen to be struggling once they are at the university against those from the same ‘passed over’ comprehensives who have had to work much harder to get an ‘offer’. One student from the former type of secondary education was heard to ask a lecturer ‘when do we get the hand-outs’ [i.e. precis of the lectures from which to prepare essays] only to be shocked by the reply along the lines of ‘go to the library and get some books and work from them'. The comprehensive school students were already in the library working away. Not prejudice – fact!

Then there is the bias of large companies who will only accept applicants for jobs who have obtained their degrees from ‘A list’ universities. This makes a nonsense of equality if the same degree is only acceptable from certain universities [names of companies can be supplied!] So if a student chooses a university near home for economic reasons s/he may find that an economic disaster looms if that uni is ‘unacceptable’ to the firms s/he applies to for employment. That won't pay any student loan bills.

For those that think the Oxbridge etc unis give the best education, believe me ‘it ain’t necessarily so’. There is more to education than book learning, meeting people from all walks of life is one of the most important things, imo.

And then we have the whole fiasco of student fees, loans etc. Although this week may have held the longest day but it was not really long enough to debate that one and the budget did not help the problem.

Education is one of the most important gifts we can give our children, but also importantly it doesn’t stop with young people. I am a great advocate of life long learning and latterly worked in the field of continuing adult education. Again successive governments have cut back investment in this important area – not realising perhaps that getting pensioners out of the house to an adult education class – in their words to me on many occasions – kept them out of the GPs surgery by ‘keeping their brains alive’. I was teaching at a first year degree level and believe me there were times when I was having trouble keeping up – especially with one 89 year old!!

Education is also the way to overcome prejudice, class divides, intolerance and on and on. But we also need good quality teacher training in all areas – especially that of special education needs in all ranges of ability [another hobby horse of mine which I will leave to another day]

But before I go I must 'plug' an exhibition which opened in London last night. This is by a very talented young artist that we have been following for a number of years. His work is often shown abroad, so it is good to be able to catch it when in London: Please click on http://www.rokebygallery.com/ and the link ' Simon Keenleyside ' to see some wonderful pictures [One is shown above]

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