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Monday, 14 October 2013

Education: It should be the State versus Parents

Education should be an area of conflict between parents and the state. To favour “parent-led education” is to oppose oneself to the state’s legitimate concern for the future.

States rarely aim to dissolve themselves. They aim to stay in business indefinitely. Without a constant supply of new children, they are doomed. Without a constant supply of talented, well-educated and willing new citizens, they are doomed to decline. It is in the state’s interests to provide the best education it can – and with no regard for the origins of the children for whose education it is responsible. The state needs the best, regardless.

Parents have different ideas. In the United Kingdom their most common aspiration is this: to ensure that their children do not end up at a lower position in the Table of Ranks than they themselves. They reckon that faith schools, free schools and private schools can ensure this outcome. No matter how dull or malevolent their children, if only they are kept away from the riff-raff (the Untouchables at the bottom of the Table of Ranks) then their future is secure. There is always going to be somebody who will employ them at the same level of salary and status as their parents enjoy. Eton does it at the top and your local Faith School does it in the middle.

From the point of view of the state, this is a disastrous way of thinking. Worse, it works. Parents – with a lot of collusion from employers, private and public – ensure that there is almost no “social mobility” in the United Kingdom.

And it will probably remain that way because the state is cursed with a representative democracy where political parties are too weak, too intellectually enfeebled, to take on parents and their vested interests in social immobility - in the existing classte system.

Instead of challenging this immobilism, political parties collude with it. They favour school uniform because it distinguishes children who come from nice homes and go to nice schools from the riff-raff, the underclass. They favour parent-led education knowing that only the sharp-elbowed middling classes will lead (though probably guided by some religious quack).

And so it will continue all through the United Kingdom’s next century of decline.

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