As promised, here is the first guest post for this month. A friend, who has posted on here before, will be presenting his ideas, and... well... that's it. Enjoy.
Tony Blair, the class-A war criminal, once gave a famous speech were he claimed to be most interested in: "Education, education and education." Cue huge round of applause from people that, in British culture, would generally be considered to be "well educated."
Not one person asked him how he defined education.
Noam Chomsky, a man who has dedicated a large part of his life to exposing the war crimes of his country, defines education as: "how things work." I don't know of a better definition of 'education' than: "helping people understand how things work." If anybody reading this has a better idea, I'd love to hear it. After all, it's just common sense isn't it? Wouldn't we be amazed to find out that the people at Honda didn't know how cars work? Wouldn't we be surprised to find out that the heart surgeon about to slice us open didn't know how the heart worked? Clearly, anyone who claims any kind of expertise in anything can tell you how it works, can't they? Except, apparently, in education. Last December I wrote to Ofsted (The office of standards in education ) and asked them for their definition of education. They replied by saying: "Ofsted has no definition of education."
Doesn't this, logically, make it enormously difficult to measure the standards of something when you don't know what it is? Imagine someone getting a job at the office of standards in semprini. What would their first question be, I wonder? And, very importantly, why don't we wonder what education is? Why do the university graduates who work at Ofsted happily ignore the very nature of the thing they are involved with? Could the education system itself be responsible for people being thicker than they have to be? Doesn't the education system we have ignore the essential way people work? My own response is yes. But I'm prepared to accept I'm wrong. Am I wrong? Is the education system we have a wonderful perfect thing and we can't possibly do any better? Or, in fact, is the education system we have the same as it has been since it was established: a way to train people to accept their station in life. The proles will get basic skills to help them in the factory, and the elite will learn long words to encourage them to think they are superior. No evidence needed of course.
It is, of course, supremely useful for ruling elites to encourage people to ignore how things work. It makes less trouble for them. If we're being honest, we've all had the same experience. Lies to friends and lies to children just make it easier for us doesn't it? But the encouragement to ignore how things work gives us the worst of the world, and the illumination of how things work gives us the best. Who would prefer the rule of the priests versus the best of science? Who would prefer the crown to the people?
In Japan, where I live, members of the Japanese government are often roundly criticised, both within and without the country, for visiting a shrine that contains the souls of class-A war criminals. In my country, we just have class-A war criminals as a Prime Minister who later goes on to become the most highly paid private speaker in the world. Yet, consistently, Japanese culture is viewed from Britain's perspective as strange, yet the idea the Tony Blair should be on trial is seldom heard. How did we get to such a situation, where our elected leaders commit the same crimes that were condemned at the Nuremberg trials and walk away rich? Very simply, because education ignores how things work, our natural ability to communicate as humans, our birth-right, is robbed from us and we are left with the communicative ability of dogs. Our education system not only ignores how communication works, it actively works against it.
This is a problem because communication is the only thing we do. Isn't it?