Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 17 November 2013

You heard it here first

From last week's post here:
Once upon a time, there were teachers who devoted heart and soul to introducing their pupils, however poor or deprived, to classical culture, correct grammar in speech and the kind of general knowledge and manners that would equip them for any social situation... 
If social mobility is to be increased, the answer is not to abolish private education but to give state school pupils the opportunity to experience what the progressives took away.

From today's Sunday Times:
Children at state schools should be taught manners, "how to speak in coherent sentences", foreign languages and team skills  from as young as seven if they are to get to the top and improve their social mobility, a leading independent school headmistress will say tomorrow... 
"Social mobility in Britain will not change until the education system changes."
An interesting coincidence, perhaps (unless this blog is far more influential than I thought), but inevitable in the sense that the conclusion is such an obvious one - at least to those without a vested interest in the educational status quo.

And there's more - Janet Daly in the Telegraph this weekend, writing about progressive education :
Schooling was no longer about encouraging children to escape from the milieu that would sink their feet in the concrete of low expectations. It was consciously designed not to do that: not to imply in any way that the child’s background was inferior – however impoverished or genuinely deprived it might be. To impose correct grammar, or academic content, or “bourgeois culture”, on working-class children was a form of social imperialism.


  1. My own feeling is that language is the key. Without being able to communicate clearly in structured form and on the basis of a wide vocabulary then communication is impaired. Beyond that is the inability to deal with anything complex

  2. That's no coincidence - they are watching you!

  3. Demetrius, you're right - and it's frustrating that prejudice against received pronunciation and 'imposing' correct grammar in schools must have prevented vast numbers of youngsters from achieving their full potential.

    Several recent TV documentaries featuring vox pop interviews from English streets have had to use subtitles because the teenagers were either incapable of making themselves understood by viewers or saw no need to make the effort to do so.

    AKH, we'll only know for certain when someone stands up at a party conference and performs one of the Tavern songs - still, I live in hope!

  4. Where do we start, Macheath, where do we start?