Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Is Education Possible?

Driving on motorways is a cutting edge experience, because it brings together into every instant two contradistinctive things we learn: attention and reflection.

For example, on the M4 today I saw a lit-up sign which informed me that the three lanes would be reducing to two just after the next junction.  I attended, of course, by getting into the middle lane.  The junction passed, no cones or anything, whereupon I realised that this sign wasn’t warning me of an immediate hazard or anything like that, it was just advising me that the road narrows in a little while: as it always does at this point, due to the imminence of a two-lane tunnel.

I started to reflect on the thought processes which led somebody to decide it’d be helpful to light up that sign, and to toy with having a bit of fun with an amusing blog post on the subject; but I had to attend to the next sign, which told me to ‘WATCH YOUR SPEED’, as well as to an obviously mirror-blind white van driver.  “Ignorant idiots,” I may have thought.


Anyway, this evening I tuned in to a Moral Maze broadcast on the subject of education.  I missed the beginning, so have no idea of the precise moral issue in question, but it was obviously to do with what exactly education, and particularly primary education, might be for.  All the usual platitudinous buzzphrases duly buzzed around;  but I was fascinated that not a single expert saw fit to mention, even in passing, any one of what I believe to be the three fundamental teachable life skills: attention; reflection; and fun.

(I’d exclude the last from motorway driving, though.)


  1. The tick-box nature of continuous assessment has done a lot to drive fun out of primary education in the last ten years or more.

  2. Sadly, we've got away from the real meaning of the word. Of course, "education" means to "lead out"; to bring out what is there, and also to improve on it. Now, it seems to mean the opposite. We stuff information into kids in order to fulfill exam syllabuses. This is so sad, as too many children leave school unaware of their own individual talents, which include imagination and the ability to cope with life and yes - to have fun, too.

  3. Are they still showing the "Plan your Olympic Journey Early" signs?