Bella: fidei defensor


by Rumbold
16th March, 2010 at 2:01 pm    

Bella Gerens has posted a wonderfully splenetic rant against Ed Balls, the education secretary. Mr. Balls attacked Latin as a ‘useless subject’, presumably as a way to appeal to the Labour left in the battle for supremacy in the party. Mr. Balls’ support for the workers is well known, such as when he claimed £27,000 for his second home (money of course collected from some of the lowest paid in society). Bella laments the crassness of Mr. Balls, and muses on why he attacked her subject:

It would be a pointless waste of time to allow you to observe the teaching of such an elegant and complex subject. Not only would you be incapable of understanding the material, much less appreciating it, the superior knowledge of the students would show you up in a Tennessee heartbeat. Could you even begin to grasp the idea of an ablative absolute, or listen with any light of comprehension in your eyes to a discussion of the sexual puns in a poem by Ovid? Students can. Could you find in your shrivelled soul an inclination to laugh at the comedy of Aristophanes or experience a pang of sympathetic horror at the tribulations of Oedipus? Students can.

It is a light-hearted rant in some senses, but Bella highlights the fact that it is dangerous to judge subjects solely on what some perceive to be their immediate utility to the world of work. The skills required to master a subject like Latin (or classics generally) are valuable. And before anyone asks, my Latin is virtually non-existent and I could never master the subject.


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  1. David Sheen

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Bella: fidei defensor http://bit.ly/c5lPV1


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    Blog post:: Bella: fidei defensor http://bit.ly/c5lPV1




  1. Roger — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:10 pm  

    “If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to
    read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy
    for the modern world.”
    “It’s a short-sighted view, Scott-King.”
    “There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the
    most long-sighted view it is possible to take.”

    Evelyn Waugh’s justification for studying Latin and Greek.

  2. cjcjc — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:17 pm  

    I challenge anyone to name a more unpleasant member of the government than Balls.

  3. Wibble — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:20 pm  

    All of sudden (following 2) Ed Balls seems a very good egg… :)

    Sigh – he’s not the first to criticise relevance of subjects. Charles Clark did the same in the same post. Of course, he could be doing it just as much to please the business community who always go on about how relevant skills.

  4. chairwoman — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:23 pm  

    “All of sudden Ed Balls seems a very good egg…”

    Not your favourite subject?

  5. Wibble — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:32 pm  

    Chairwoman: no, it was a dig at cjcjc.

    I regrettably didn’t have the benefit of a classical education, but I hate ministers and business folks talking about the relevance of subjects for whatever political purpose.

  6. Mangles — on 16th March, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

    cjcjc I agree he is creepy and never comes across as somenone I can trust.

    What a shame he is one of the most loyal of Brown’s advisers lol.

    Rab rakha.

  7. Sarah AB — on 16th March, 2010 at 3:27 pm  

    I’ve been spending much of my morning thinking about Virgil – who strikes me as being a lot less useless than Ed Balls. (Never liked the man.) My research is mostly on the reception of classical texts and many of my (Eng lit) students seem particularly interested in finding out about classical myths and tragedies – and I remember some expressing regret that they didn’t learn more about such things at school. I hate this useless/useful binary – I see the whole point of useful things (medicine, engineering, farming technology or whatever) as being to free us up to have more time to indulge in supposedly ‘useless’ activities. Obviously Latin *does* teach you important transferable skills and it also might indirectly generate money by, eg, attracting overseas research students (and their fees) into the country. But I don’t think one should have to point to such things in order to justify why it should be taught.

  8. Chris Williams — on 16th March, 2010 at 4:37 pm  

    Sarah’s on the money here. And why the crack about ‘the Labour Left’? In my experience, it’s the right that’s being appealed to when the Know-Nothing arguments get wheeled out. Does anyone have any evidence of Labour leftist saying “Yes, I did hate the nasty Blairite, but if he’s putting the boot into Latin, he’s my man.”?

  9. Refresh — on 16th March, 2010 at 4:58 pm  

    Rumbold

    Be fair. How can the ‘utility of work’ be a left wing objective?

    It is, and has been from time of the big bang, exactly what the right wing wants – train the masses just enough to be functional for their alotted station in life.

    Life long learning should never have become a treadmill so you can keep training and retraining for the changing pace of the workplace.

    The classics, languages and sciences should be all about the masses achieving their aspirations.

  10. earwicga — on 16th March, 2010 at 5:52 pm  

    cjcjc

    I challenge anyone to name a more unpleasant member of the government than Balls.

    David Miliband, by a country mile.

  11. Refresh — on 16th March, 2010 at 6:22 pm  

    I can name an extremely unpleasant figure from a possible tory one – Michael Gove.

  12. Don — on 16th March, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

    @Refresh #8

    Totally agree.

  13. Rumbold — on 16th March, 2010 at 8:05 pm  

    Refresh:

    I meant in the sense that attacking Latin is a quick way of getting support, as it is seen as an elitist subject.

  14. Chris Baldwin — on 16th March, 2010 at 8:13 pm  

    “Mr. Balls attacked Latin as a ‘useless subject’, presumably as a way to appeal to the Labour left in the battle for supremacy in the party.”

    This statement makes no sense. We on the Labour left adore Latin!

  15. Sarah AB — on 16th March, 2010 at 9:03 pm  

    I think there are utilitarian philistines on both left and right. The political group most supportive of learning for its own sake may be the RCP – or its later manifestations such as Spiked and the Institute of Ideas – particularly Frank Furedi and Clare Fox . The right sometimes stands up for education for its own sake, but too often likes to have a swipe at widening participation when it does so – I’m particularly thinking of a group called ‘educators for reform’.

  16. Sarah AB — on 16th March, 2010 at 9:06 pm  

    Rumbold – it is rather elitist in a way but you can do a Classics degree at many universities (including Cambridge) without prior knowledge of Latin and Greek and there is an excellent organisation (the Iris project) which aims to promote the teaching of Latin in the state sector.

    http://www.irismagazine.org/

  17. Refresh — on 16th March, 2010 at 9:21 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Meus latin est non ut bonus ut is adsuesco assuesco exsisto. lingua eram usquequaque in manuum of priveleged quod has subsisto sic. Ut est quare suus duco elitist.

  18. Tony Keen — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:05 am  

    I’m sure that many on the Labour left do want to learn Latin. But I suspect that to people like Balls, over-privileged idiots whose commitment to the Labour cause is based on using it as a route to power rather than any ideological sense of righting injustice (I’d call him a popularis if I thought he would remember what it meant), attacking the ‘toff’ subjects might appear an easy way of currying favour with people who he doesn’t understand, and whose interests he doesn’t represent.

  19. A.C. — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:18 am  

    I studied Latin and Greek all the way from my state comp to degree level, and look what happened to me!

    Balls being the philistine he is, it will probably get knocked off the syllabus ;)

  20. persephone — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:53 am  

    @ 19 What did happen to you?

  21. dave bones — on 17th March, 2010 at 10:00 am  

    veni vidi vici

    you can tell the only Latin I know came out of an Asterix book eh.

  22. Katy Newton — on 17th March, 2010 at 10:06 am  

    Gargh. I hate it when people come out with this stuff. Latin’s like everything else – it’s relevant to some things and not others. No doubt it’s not much use to Ed Balls. For me, being a bit of a linguist, I found Latin absolutely invaluable, and only wish I’d been able to do Greek too. (Sadly I couldn’t do either at A-Level because having changed schools it turned out that my new school didn’t offer either.)

    Geography, on the other hand, was worse than useless for me but invaluable to my best friend, who is an environmental consultant. It really depends on what you’re interested in and what you’re good at.

  23. persephone — on 17th March, 2010 at 10:54 am  

    I think there needs to be some re-education on language teaching – particularly in making it more inclusive. If that is done the argument for teaching Latin would be more sustainable since it would bring a wider education on many fronts as it would tap into history, geography and evolution.

    Currently, there appears to be no linkage to the common ancestry with other languages. I’d like to see that tackled as a short core module at school which would support the depth language teaching in Latin, French, geography, history, biology etc. This would counter the misconception that Latin is a complex, sophisticated language restricted to a certain class, culture and a Western invented language therefore associated to be from a supreme, civilised culture.

    It can be brief: the two links below show very succinctly the common ancestry from the mother language – Indo –European:
    http://www.putlearningfirst.com/language/01origin/history2.html
    http://www.putlearningfirst.com/language/01origin/tree.html

    Quoting from the 2nd link “ … modern English does not appear in the table above. This is because modern English, uniquely amongst Indo-European languages in the last thousand years, is a blend of French and Old English (with elements of Latin and Scandinavian) making it both Italic (or Romance) and Germanic. It is this blend which gives us such a large vocabulary and a flexibility to adapt to circumstances. The “mongrel” language continues to adapt while other languages try to keep out foreign influences”

    It shows that the strength of modern English lies in its diversity.

  24. Sunny — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:00 pm  

    presumably as a way to appeal to the Labour left in the battle for supremacy in the party.

    that doesn’t make any sense at all. not seen any lefties clamour to get rid of latin.

  25. Leon — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:02 pm  

    The skills required to master a subject like Latin (or classics generally) are valuable.

    I learned it at school and used to be relatively fluent in it (a skill I’ve sadly lost due to neglect). It is a beautiful language and learning it is important because it teaches you about language itself due to it being a foundation of so many. It’s a shame Ed Balls can see the same value in it…

  26. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:04 pm  

    AC

    Yes what did happen to you?

    Rumbold,

    Here is my confession. My latin above is from an online translation service. Although I did do latin I can confidently say it gave me no advantage.

    Bella Gerens and fellow supporters have only themselves to blame – she can snipe all she wants but she has not made the subject relevant.

    The reason why latin would have been relevant was that historically it was the language of the church and therefore of power – thus elitist.

    What we need is a redefinition of the Classics. I would add arabic to greek and latin. Arabic after all is what brought the ancient texts to the then benighted west.

  27. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:07 pm  

    There is an argument that the debate about latin will go the same way as the heated debate on the use of calculators in schools of the early 80′s. Its a tool.

  28. Sarah AB — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:24 pm  

    Refresh – why does everything have to be ‘relevant’? Though in fact classical culture permeates much modern and popular culture – poets like Ted Hughes go back to Ovid and there are plenty of children’s books, computer games and popular TV programmes which engage with the classics. I’m sure Arabic (language, literature and culture) is very valuable too, but it’s Greek and Roman lit which have really fed into Western culture. There’s a lot of work being done on the place on the classics in non-elite cultures – I know someone who is researching the place of classical motifs in the Trade Union movement, and scholars like Edith Hall also examine the relationship between classics and class. Here’s a link to my write up of an event which is very relevant to this discussion.

    http://www.adjb.net/sab/index.php?entry=entry070204-092300

  29. Chris E — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:24 pm  

    that doesn’t make any sense at all. not seen any lefties clamour to get rid of latin.

    No – but it’s an easy proxy for toff bashing.

  30. Sarah AB — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:26 pm  
  31. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 12:38 pm  

    Relevant in that someone has to beat the drum and remind people. Not relevant in the sense that there is a ‘commercial’ return.

    I am sure there are statistics which show how many languages are being lost world wide, much in the same way as we see extinction of species. So if we did not have people banging the drum then a language becomes irrelevant and subsequently lost.
    Welsh is a good example, if there had not been sufficient campaigning in the 50s 60s 70s then the language would by now have entered a terminal decline.

    Bella Gerens should not rant, but tell us what she has done for latin lately.

    I suspect we need a Kew Garden for languages, to protect and preserve.

    BTW, it was through arabic we found greek. The amassing and transfer of ancient knowledge came through that gargantuan effort.

  32. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 1:15 pm  

    Refresh:

    Bella Gerens should not rant, but tell us what she has done for latin lately.

    I suppose actually teaching it in an actual school doesn’t count? Y’know, convincing students daily of its elegance, usefulness to the mind, and relevance to modern culture, encouraging them to respect their own cleverness (it’s not really that hard to learn); discussing with parents (who do want their kids to study Latin) the advantages that learning structurally different languages brings to the brain; promoting it to head teachers and students picking their exam subjects; and generally promoting myself as proof of the benefits of having a classical education.

    Oh, and also, ranting about it on my blog, where it’s been linked to by this site, the Spectator blog, and a number of others.

    Where, exactly, do you think my deficiencies lie? How have I not been ‘doing things for Latin lately’?

    P.S. The Latin you got from your online translation service is incomprehensible.

    P.P.S. We didn’t ‘find Greek’ through Arabic. Greek was spoken everywhere in the Mediterranean world, except for northern Europe, as a lingua franca until the Crusades; it wasn’t until the rise of the Turks that it was limited to Greece and western Asia Minor. Just because the French and English of the Middle Ages didn’t know it doesn’t mean it was ‘lost.’

  33. persephone — on 17th March, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

    Bella gerens

    “We didn’t ‘find Greek’ through Arabic”

    Out of interest what is the provenance of Greek?

  34. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 1:58 pm  

    The earliest written Greek, I think, is the Linear B tablets from Crete, which are about 3000 years old. It’s an Indo-European language, one of the oldest, and has been continuously spoken for probably 4000 years.

  35. persephone — on 17th March, 2010 at 2:17 pm  

    Thanks. Is the indo part trackable ie to a region/ language from antiquity?

    As per my comment at #23 is this common ancestry taught?

  36. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 3:53 pm  

    Bella,

    ‘Where, exactly, do you think my deficiencies lie? How have I not been ‘doing things for Latin lately’?’

    Glad to see you here. I am not sure you have deficiencies other than those we would all share.

    Given that this is my first exposure to your views and its portrayed as a rant, it should not surprise you to know that I think its unwarranted. If latin is on the decline then that surely is not the fault of the education secretary and not a left right issue. And if the Spectator has linked to your blog then the gripe is probably with them and with Rumbold. Who acknowledges upthread that he sees Ed Balls contribution as a political ploy.

    I beleive you should be ranting against all those who have in recent years not pushed the subject and let it dwindle, as clearly you want to.

    My experience is that the subject is/was taught in grammar schools, private schools and rarely in comprehensives. Which is probably where the question of elitism arose.

    My own latin has long disappeared, but saw that the translation engine was pretty poor. And yet it needed you to point that out. And as a mini-experiment suggests latin is not as relevant as it could be.

    I am still interested to know why only certain types of schools teach the subject and why its not broadened out. I have a view on this, and I believe there is elitism in the type of education offered and promoted.

    As for the link between greek and arabic, my point really was about transfer of knowledge and thought as opposed to an ancient language.

  37. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

    Bella,

    I meant to also ask, should arabic be included in the classics?

    Mr Lawrence would probably say yes.

  38. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 4:34 pm  

    Refresh,

    I think you read more into what I say than is actually there. I haven’t attributed the decline of Latin to any education secretaries – I’m not even convinced it is in decline at all, at least as compared to twenty years ago. It’s certainly on the rise in state schools. But that won’t last if Ed Balls, the political voice of education in this country, continues to denigrate the subject as useless and boring. Quite apart from the matter of funding, there is the matter of influence. When a politician as prominent as Balls says something is useless, unfortunately there remain people who will take him at his word despite his manifest ignorance of the matter.

    I’m not really painting it as a left-right issue either, as I would have had the same reaction if Michael Gove among others had said the same thing. Do you really think it’s in the best interests of education in general for the minister who oversees it to denigrate any kind of learning at all? Do you think it sensible for him to claim to the public that the only learning worth having is what will produce economic benefit to the country?

    We force children to attend schools for eleven, soon to be thirteen, years of their life and give them little enough choice in what they study as it is. Some of them enjoy Latin; I could certainly name you a few. Is it right for Ed Balls to pronounce their pleasure useless because it doesn’t increase tax receipts or GDP? Some of them are good at Latin; is it right for Ed Balls to suggest their skill is worthless and their accomplishment meaningless? You may disagree, but I think no child should have to hear such things from the education minister.

    You also mention relevance, as if that were in any way important when considering what a child learns. How do you define it? Oh, I know Latin isn’t spoken these days, nobody needs to read Ovid for their job, blah blah blah – but as with any language, it expands the mind. Who cares if a student will ever use it? Do most of them ever use what they learn about Ghanaian rivers in geography lessons, or how to take derivatives in calculus lessons? I never have, but I don’t begrudge the time spent learning those things. Education is not solely about economic utility.

    You say Latin never brought you an advantage, but I wonder how you know that. What crystal ball have you looked into that shows what your life would have been like without it? What machine shows you how your brain would have developed without the analytical skills learning Latin gave you?

    you should be ranting against all those who have in recent years not pushed the subject and let it dwindle, as clearly you want to

    Well, I disagree. I can’t identify who isn’t pushing the subject, or who is allowing it to dwindle (if it is). I can’t rant against unknown people whose actions are a negative. Why should I rant against people who, by your own statement, aren’t doing anything, when the head of education policy in this country is actively speaking against the subject? I don’t know why you think he doesn’t deserve my attack, except that evidently you agree with him. That’s your privilege, of course, but I’m hardly going to take such biased advice.

    There are a lot of people in this country working very hard to promote the study of Latin and classics in the face of accusations about uselessness and irrelevance. They don’t need to battle against the public face of the education sector as well.

    As for Arabic – why include it in the classics? It’s valuable on its own terms.

  39. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 4:56 pm  

    Bella,

    A fair defence. If I have read it correctly, you are saying that education should be about broadening of the mind. And I wholeheartedly agree, and if you scroll up you will see that is my starting point.

    I only wish you had been around in the 80′s when academia was being driven out of its ivory tower, broken and coralled into another ‘productive’ sector of the economy.

    I suspect you could have done without the Spectator on your side. Your argument was much better put in your last comment than the quote Rumbold selects.

    By the way I believe it was Ed Balls who suggested arabic should be taught in schools. I proffered the suggestion, not out of mischief but to establish the point that modernity and modern culture is a combination of contributions from a quite a few civilisations – roman, greek, arab being only three; and perhaps its time to reclassify the classics so its outward looking not eurocentric.

  40. Sarah AB — on 17th March, 2010 at 4:58 pm  

    Thanks Bella – I agree with your points – though I *do* have to read Ovid for my job (which is nice).

  41. Jai — on 17th March, 2010 at 5:44 pm  

    modernity and modern culture is a combination of contributions from a quite a few civilisations – roman, greek, arab being only three; and perhaps its time to reclassify the classics so its outward looking not eurocentric.

    I agree with this, and would also add Persian, Sanskrit and Classical Chinese to the list of languages which it would be beneficial to teach. There is a wealth of international literature and history from the classical and medieval periods, and as Refresh has correctly said, a number of civilisations worldwide have been heavily involved in the progress of human history.

    In fact, as I’ve previously mentioned myself, these civilisations weren’t necessarily anywhere near as isolated from each other as some people may assume (regardless of the Eurocentric legacy of Victorian colonial propaganda), and it would definitely be constructive to begin to understand “the big picture” in our own increasingly globalised and interconnected modern era.

  42. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 6:16 pm  

    Bella,

    Jai makes an interesting point which begs the question – are the classics, as we understand them today, a result of politics of the victorian era?

  43. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 6:28 pm  

    Refresh & Jai,

    are the classics, as we understand them today, a result of politics of the victorian era?

    That, I do not know. Probably.

    modernity and modern culture is a combination of contributions from a quite a few civilisations – roman, greek, arab being only three; and perhaps its time to reclassify the classics so its outward looking not eurocentric.

    This I agree with, but I’d hesitate to use it as a justification for teaching these things. Again, it moves us into the ‘relevance’ territory. As I said about Arabic, the material has value on its own merits. If we study things only in terms of what they can teach us about our own society, or only in terms of what we can use them for to generate economic growth, we’re reducing everything down to two quite narrow ideas of value.

    A lot of knowledge isn’t particularly ‘useful’ for anything other than pleasure and a sense of accomplishment, and many skills aren’t immediately or obviously marketable, but that doesn’t mean they’re valueless. Being able to read Latin, for example, is only one of the many valuable aspects of knowing the language. But even if that was the only one, it would still be worth doing.

    I’m quite sensitive to the point being made about the classics being quite eurocentric these days, but hey. We understand ‘classics’ to mean the study of the ancient Greek and Roman world. At least we’re not calling it ‘greats’ any more! I think most students would love to study other languages and cultures too – the more different from ours, the better, really – but we have such a narrow idea of utility in education these days that the chances of that kind of expansion are slim.

    Unless, of course, our education policies are directed by people who share that view. Which, I submit to you, Ed Culleolus does not.

  44. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 6:40 pm  

    Refresh,

    I suspect you could have done without the Spectator on your side.

    I could probably still do without the Spectator on my side! My point was that my defence of Latin against the depredations of Balls did get read and has possibly done some good. I doubt that would have happened if I’d limited myself to chastising faceless people whose offence has been one of omission.

  45. KJB — on 17th March, 2010 at 6:41 pm  

    we have such a narrow idea of utility in education these days that the chances of that kind of expansion are slim

    Let us not forget that teachers are increasingly called upon to provide basic parenting duties, like proper sex education and a sense of social responsibility – making the idea of education for learning’s sake look like even more of a distant dream…

    Although it has to be said that there is a very strong anti-intellectual tendency in British culture, that seems to have been around for a while and that I really don’t understand.

    To be ‘clever’ and academically overachieving is not generally seen as an admirable thing. That only helps to fuel the obsession with usefulness.

  46. Wibble — on 17th March, 2010 at 6:49 pm  

    Bella / Rumbold : what is the Libertarian take on state funding for subjects such as the Classics? Would you want universities to, say, just rely upon student numbers, alumni charity, and other private sources to pay for these subjects? Is there a role for “small” government to fund university research for subjects are not seen as “useful” by the likes of Ed Balls?

  47. bella gerens — on 17th March, 2010 at 8:10 pm  

    Wibble,

    Would you want universities to, say, just rely upon student numbers, alumni charity, and other private sources to pay for these subjects?

    Private universities in the US manage to do this, and many of them have excellent Classics departments. In fact, many of the best universities in the US receive no direct state funding. I don’t see why that couldn’t be done here.

  48. chairwoman — on 17th March, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

    “agree with this, and would also add Persian, Sanskrit and Classical Chinese to the list of languages which it would be beneficial to teach. There is a wealth of international literature and history from the classical and medieval periods, and as Refresh has correctly said, a number of civilisations worldwide have been heavily involved in the progress of human history.”

    Hebrew. Educated Elizabethans could not only read it, but could converse in it.

  49. Sarah AB — on 17th March, 2010 at 8:36 pm  

    I suppose the precise shape of ‘classics’ will change from era to era but I think (maybe) the main feature of Victoria classics might have been to create a sense of the British Empire as a kind of continuation of the Roman Empire. But the actual content of classics – eg the poetry of Ovid – had a pretty continuous influence from the Dark Ages onwards on Western European lit. Greek writers maybe had a slightly less consistent influence? (Shakespeare would have known more about Seneca than about Euripides and Sophocles.)

  50. Rumbold — on 17th March, 2010 at 8:45 pm  

    Refresh (and others):

    To further clarify my point, I don’t think that those on the left are anti-learning. What I do think though ist that there are certain things people attack as a sop to a group they are courting (e.g. immigration and Daily Mail readers).

    Wibble:

    Education shouldn’t be narrowly vocational. Universities are a slightly different debate.

    Jai:

    I would like to see more teaching on Persian etc, or at least on Persian, Indian, etc culture and history.

  51. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:08 pm  

    Bella, Sarah, Jai, Chairwoman

    Sounds like we need a campaign to modernise the classics and demonstrate their relevance.

    Rumbold, I would agree, some politicians need scapegoats. And yet as far as scapegoats go, if you’re proven right (hard to imagine in this case), needling of the privileged is hardly something to fret over.

    Bella,

    Education has not been served well in this country, and Thatcher’s commercialisation of education is the primary cause of what we have today.

    I applaud the objective of opening up universities to the masses, but not what’s being offered to them.

    I do not think we should sit and hope that vicious twerp Michael Gove will do better. He will advance his career on scapegoating, and imagine the consequences of that in schools, amongst the most impressionable.

    I know. Twerps by nature are not vicious, but Gove is an exception.

  52. earwicga — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:10 pm  

    As we all know, learning a second language as a young child actually makes it easier to learn languages throughout life. Useful languages to learn would be those of the British Isles such as Welsh.

  53. Rumbold — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:11 pm  

    Good point Earwiga.

  54. MiriamBinder — on 17th March, 2010 at 11:19 pm  

    I agree that education should not be narrowly vocational anymore then it should be narrowly academic. What statutory education should be about is opening the windows and doors of option and choice. (I’ve moe or less given up on posting here because of the spam filter/moderation trap … still, I’ll give it one more try)

    The more varied a selection you introduce children to, the more likely you are to find just that area given individuals are interested and adept in.

    Introduce children to a varied selection of languages, crafts and sciences, historical as well as current .. the more the merrier really. Start this as early as possible; nursery and primary.

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