Friday, 23 March 2012

Education? Who needs it?

The local radio station here has a limited range of music. We listen to it as it is really a "news" station and we like to keep abreast. I realised recently that one song from the 70s should have been listed as the most stupid and ill-informed lyric ever recorded. Who the heck thought a Pop Song with the lyric -

We don't need no education, 


Teacher, leave those kids alone ...

was a good idea? I can't escape the feeling that there is an entire generation out there who think the song was right. After all, if you're on the dole, you don't need an education. That's only for wimps who go out to work. Strangely it came on the radio just as I read an article on the BBC Website (We're barred from receiving it even on the internet in Europe!) entitled The Church of England Reaffirms its Committment to Education.

Of course that got an immediate response from the Chairman of the National Secular Society (Membership 7,000 and falling. The CofE currently has 3 million and other Christian denominations make up several million more - but don't tell Mr Porteous-Wood, it might depress him) accusing the church of "indoctrination" and declaring "religion belongs in the home and has no place in public society." At a guess I would suggest the Chairman is a member of the generation that sang along with the lyrics "We don't need no education ..." Certainly, having read a number of his statements on the subject of religion and what it stands for I can only say he is a perfect example of someone who is "illiterate" as far as matters of faith are concerned.

To quote the BBC report -

Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said by putting schools at the centre of its mission, the Church was acknowledging its churches were failing.
"Turning up the volume of religiosity in schools will cause greater resentment among the non-Christian parents at these schools.
"Religion is something for the home and the place of worship."
Church schools were only successful because they kept out the "difficult-to-teach" children, he added.
What this tells me is that he is very good at sterotyping and not much good at being objective or factual. First, the law forbids selection and discrimination, yet he is here suggesting that Faith or Church Schools do both. Church schools generally have better behaved children because the teachers are better motivated by and large. Though there are examples where that is not the case, they are rare. His remark 'Turning up the volume on religiosity ...' is typical of the sort of blanket denial that anyone has any faith and is instead caught up in some sort of empty ritualistic process made by someone who is utterly ignorant of what faith really is.

Something the Secularists hate is that the entire "Free Public Education" system was started by the much maligned Church of England just over 200 years ago. It took another 50 years before the "Captains and Kings" of Parliament and the "Great and Good" of the moneyed classes conceded that an educated workforce might be useful. I sincerely hope and trust that the CofE continues its involvement in schools and expands it.

Education? Who needs it? It seems to me that there is an entire class of supposedly intelligent and supposedly qualified people out there who do. Somewhere between starting school and reaching their current standing in society they seem to have missed being educated in anything at all - other than their prejudices and ignorance.


  1. While I do not disagree with any of The Monk's comments about education, in fact I support them, in the interests of balance, I would wish to put in a word for Pink Floyd.

    Firstly, the song was released in late 1979 which is Thatcher era rather than "sociological seventies" however, it is one song that, taken in isolation, appears to have the meaning you suggest, but taken in context as part of what is almost a "rock opera" is a metaphor for the social changes taking place around the two or three years either side of 1968 that are the "sociological sixties".

    The 1982 film of "The Wall" deals with alienation, the young boy, Pink, lost his father during the 1939-45 war (possibly at Anzio on Operation Shingle, as a member of the band lost his father there in February 1944.)and is brought up by an overprotective mother "inside the wall". Much of the film deals with Pink as a young English boy growing up in the early 1950s. The anti-teacher message, rather than an anti education message suggested by the song title is one of several quite powerful themes. At school, he is humiliated for writing poems in class. The poems that the teacher seizes from him and reads aloud are lyrics from "Money" from Dark Side of the Moon. After the teacher reads the poem out loud, Pink starts hallucinating the music video of "Another Brick in the Wall", where ranks of schoolmasters in cap and gown, cane in hand morph into marching claw hammers.

    I went to a traditional Boys Grammar School in the sixties and can warrant for the vindictive, sadistic, violent and terrifying conduct of certain Masters there until that magical time after 1968 when things started to change and the world moved from black and white to colour; I find the album video, one of my Wife's favourites quite harrowing to listen to as it partly reflects my own experiences.

  2. Had one or two Masters who fell into that category, but I have to say the majority were dedicated and very good. Sadly, I didn't take enough advantage of their teaching ...

  3. Spotted this comment on Facebook -

    "2011 celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founding of the National Society and the work of the Church of England in schools and teacher education.They committed themselves to a church school in every parish. They never quite made the 19,000 schools but by 1861 there were 12,000 schools in union with the NS. The money was raised through subscription because there was strong resistance to the idea that this should be paid for by the state, or paid for from taxation. After an incredible " take- over" let us hope there are more church schools for those who want them."

    The last part of that says everything you need to know about the politicians and the secularists who only jumped on the band wagon when they saw the advantage of attempting to highjack it.