There are many people in the UK that are not academically minded, cannot easily take on a degree, or prefer to be more practical and take apprenticeships. There are those that have dyslexia, some have poor parenting, often because their parents also had poor parenting and a bad start in life with no-one to teach the basics, or set a good example as to how to live. I was not very academic, although I was borderline Grammer school. I had loving parents and stable home but due to my Mothers ill health when I was 11 and her having a child late in life, it caused significant distractions to me from 11 to 15. I can remember NOTHING of what I was taught of History, Geography, Maths etc. Until I was 30 I was in a sort of “darkness” not knowing what people were talking about, always trying to bluff my way and covering my lack of knowledge, or just sitting silent in discussions. When I was 30 a friend gave me the book, Chronicles of the World, which I sectioned off and read a certain amount of pages a day in order to finish it in 6 months. Finding this very useful, I then read The Complete Works of Shakespeare, a book on Western philosophy, in another 6 months and the Bible from start to finish a few times within another 6 months of so. The “darkness” and insecurity I felt virtually disappeared and I realised it came from my lack of education, but ONLY after doing all of this reading did I fully realise what my problem was.
Baseline Education: Every child, particularly those with less opportunity in life, or of less ability, need a “baseline” of knowledge of Religion, History, Physics, Atheism/Reason. It can be done in schools quickly and easily by 7 or 8 DVD’s, or by families and individuals buying those DVDs to watch. All about £10-£13 each. It would be useful for all children academic or otherwise,to watch these videos at the start of their secondary school education, either in the first few days one after the other, or over the first term 1 or 2 hours every week. It provides those children who do not have problems a simple “baseline” knowledge, to which they can add the more detailed knowledge of their schooling, and for those of less ability, it can become a repeated learning every year so that they might go away when leaving school with a “basic” idea of the world and where their place in it is. My schooling and lessons seemed a maze of ad hoc unattached information that did not make sense at all.
The DVD’s I recommend and which available from www.bbc.co.uk or www.Amazon.co.uk (or the site for Amazon applicable to your country) and I list them in suggested order of priority/usefulness if you unable to buy them all at once. If you want the religious aspect of life first, then buy 6, 7 and 1 first, these all cover aspects Israel and Islam as well. I have yet to find a good ones to recommend that are also available on DVD specifically for Islam and Israel. When I do I will provide details.
List as follows: 1) History of the World by Andrew Marr 2) The Wonders Collection with Prof. Brian Cox (wonders of the Solar System) 3) The Story of Science Presented by Michael Mosely 4) Darwins Dangerous Idea presented by Andrew Marr 5)The Richard Dawkins Collection (Channel 4 DVD available from Amazon) 6) A History of Christianity presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch 7) Jerusalem (The making of a Holy City) Presented by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Perhaps a DVD of Islam and Philosophy and Politics can be created along the above lines by the BBC or other company in the future. Channel 4 had one on Islam suitable that was transmitted, but it was not for sale generally on DVD.
If schools with troubled disruptive children show these DVD's and few times throughout their school life, so that they go away with a “general idea” of where they have come from, the world, the solar system and science and it will help then significantly in life even if their education has not been absorbed very well for whatever reason.
For less academic children and those regularly excluded from school for disruptive behaviour: If a child has reached secondary school and after the first year to 12 years,and it becomes obvious they are having difficulty academically, or are disruptive and/or un-cooperative. Then instead of trying to teach academic type subjects in the usual manner, focus instead on replaying the above videos, once or twice term perhaps, in a short space of time, over one or 2 days. I have found if it is done in a short space of time, the “whole story” is seen and remembered better. As with the Bible and Qur’an, it is better read as a “whole” when read in 2 or 6 weeks, rather than 6 months or a year or more.
Let a new curriculum be created for these children difficulties after their first year of secondary school: That curriculum to focus on basic reading, spelling, writing and maths skills, basic vocabulary improvement so they become aware that “ain’t” and using swear words every other word or less, will not help their job interviews. Vocabulary lessons so that they can speak clearly. Some children are not encouraged to speak much at home and this hinders them. Let them be taught assertive skills in expressing themselves verbally in their ideas generally and anger management, plus counselling for all, how they are feeling, what they feel they are good at and help them to identify for themselves their own inner skills and strengths and the hobbies they could develop. Also introduce more practical life skills lessons: How to cook, budget, clean a flat, open a bank account, the importance of exercise, avoidance of drugs and excess alcohol and sugar. Family planning and advice on relationships, and that there are other things in life than getting married and having children. Show them DVD's or pictures of places to travel to, jobs they could do, evening classes they could take on. For disruptive boys and girls in particular, a week every term or year, or when necessary, in military service style discipline. Even if it starts at school at 9am, or a local sports centre with someone from the Army or Police, or just the Leisure centre staff. Gym, weights, running, cleaning shoes and smart dress, standing to attention, obstacle course etc. Beginning each day with a motivational talk on getting to grips with their life and taking control of it. Perhaps providing them with a well chosen self help book, or one written for all children at this age (which I may attempt in due course).
A new subject should be introduced for ALL children: Philosophy of Life and basic Politics and Economics In order that all children grow up with an understanding of how the Government and world economies work and the Politics, so that they can vote with responsibility, not out of lack of knowledge and guesswork. Perhaps we should make voting compulsory, be it postal, internet, or in person and a small fine imposed if a vote is not made. An abstention option can be offered on the form for those who are truly unsure, or object to voting. Fines can go towards financing the parties for the next election.
In Kent we still have these schools and I think they should be brought back nationwide. They may put pressure on some children if they fail the entrance exam, but if the idea for them is presented better it need give pressure. Grammar schools also allow those children who are poor with less support at home, yet clever, to be identified and given a better education with others of similar ability who are taking seriously their education. There may be a certain degree of “status” for those who attend, but this will also benefit these poorer children, for they will have better “life” status having gone to the Grammar school, which is allowed only through ability, not finance, it in fact begins to create a “level playing field” for those less well off, enabling opportunities in their later professional life simply because they have attended a Grammar school.
Society needs to identify the academic “best” for the benefit of all society and make the “best” of them, it is a different style of education that’s all, we just need to present it better for those who do not pass the exam. The Comprehensive schools can still provide a similar option for late developers and others who can still develop their skills and go on to the best Universities. But let those who have obvious academic ability early, not be hindered for the sake of the majority who we think will feel bad. It is just like winning a scholarship for a private school that’s all. We cannot all be the same, we all have to learn that we all have different abilities. We find that when some are in the top grade and the rest of us further down, it cannot be avoided.
We also have a very good adult education service and throughout life others can take up further study when they want it. At present we seem to have banished the Grammar schools in order to prevent the majority not to feel bad about themselves. This is not a good, for it is "dumbing down" based on envy or jealousy. We need to make the best of the academic children for the benefit of us all, for they are sometimes (not always) the innovators and those that can bring balance to the “rich” who may have been educated in Eton or Harrow or similar paying schools, and which we have recently learnt hold many of the “positions of power” in Government or similar, yet may not have the ability. The Grammar schools provide a quicker avenue for those gifted children early on who have a particular overall academic ability, but whose parents cannot pay private education. Let us not stifle it, we need all such children at their best, for the sake of the world.
Contrary to popular belief or "myth", it is not the case that an individual can do little in the world, and can only affect their little "corner" of society. Instead it is INDIVIDUALS that have moved the world forward....or back. Look at Bill Gates, Aristotle, Loius Pasteur...Hitler. Let each person seek the best they can of themselves, be they academic or not...for not all progress is from the academic side of life. If a child does not pass the 11+ for a Grammar school or enter university, it is just not their gifting, but we all have some gifting or strength which is EQUALLY necessary and required in society. We can all be pleased with our efforts in life if we enjoy it. We need to seek out and enjoy what we are good at, that is the way to happiness AND success. Success is not just in academic success, or a lot of money in the bank. The greatest success in life is enjoying our job and our day and having a goal, or several goals that inspire us and brings us inspiration for the future. Together with good health, which we will not have if we take drugs, drink too much alcohol, eat to much, or are too promiscuous. Nor will we have a happy life initially if we do not pay our bills, have children too early and expect society to support us in that luxury, or do have the self discipline to take care of ourselves and our home and our environment for the sake of all IN that enviroment. All this children need to be educated in, an overall philosophy of Life and what it is about, so that they can make the right choices early on in life, particularly if they have come from a home that is difficult, for the problems continue from generation to generation.
Even in the Genesis 18: 19 it has God implying to Abraham that he was "chosen" also because God knew he would "teach his children" about justice and right judgement. We have had present day experts say that if we take a child at a certain age, 5 years I think it is, to train/educate him/her a certain way, then you will see what he will become as a "man" (or woman). Children learn by example, or as we are "trained" by our parents or society... for good or ill. The Jews are the blood offspring of Abraham and Sarah his official wife, both Syrian, (Ishmael was the Son of Abraham and Hagar the Eygptian "Bondmaid" of Sarah and was not brought up with Abraham having been sent away early on in his life. Please see Heading "The Baseline Story"). The Jews have a very disciplined home life I understand, even now, and they have a good community spirit within themselves, supporting each other, and are successful in many things. Parts of society have an aggression against the Jews, but this may partly be because they do not like the success they have in life. This success may be partly due to the discipline they give to their children and family life more effectively than most. The Germans are also very disciplined and are successful. The general (Gentile) rich, perhaps are rich or maintain their status in life because they also follow certain principals or self discipline and teach their children the same also. The "middle class" and those "working class" also do so to a degree, for we should not "generalise", but probably as self discipline and correction of children (I am not talking of physical correction, which is abuse) breaks down, so the families break down and break up and start becoming a problem for society, needing social support and care and causing criminal activity. Even poor reading skills comes from not having enough attention or assistance at home, and a large percentage of those in prison care, spent their life in care homes and are dyslexic it appears. The point I am making is that wealth and success comes from parents teaching their children well and if the parents do not, the schools may have to teach them about self discipline and hard work. Most of the rich and successful still have to apply these principals even if wealth it is inherited, or they lose what they have. Most rich people have achieved success only through hard work and discipline. Some people on benefits or immigrants, seem to think that, be it a foreign nation or the upper or middle class of their own compratriots, that benefits and success just "happens" and they should benefit without any effort themselves and it is as "right". The media, society and some MPs and those in the public eye also seem to propagate this "right". It helps no one, particulary the tax and welfare system set up to benefit us when we are truly and unexpectedly vulnerable and have not contrived it to obtain an easier life. For despite what people on benefit say, one can live off it if it is budgeted and one does not have pets, drugs, drink, smoke etc. It is easier than working for sure.
Genesis 18: 16-And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.17And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.20And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 2And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.