Saturday, 16 January 2010

Ed Balls and Education

One thing is certain where Ed Balls appears to be concerned and that is he cannot bear not to abuse the power he has been granted. It is generally regarded, by those who think about it, that British Education is not very good. Our children who have to endure state education seem almost to lose the will to live half the time as they are spoonfed their exam results.

Most of our teenagers are convinced that they are 'stressed out' by the work they must do to pass exams but generally they don't have to 'learn' very much. Course work makes up a large percentage of the final exam result and the internet provides answers for many of the topics. Now I realise that I may appear hypercritical and I realise that the world has changed but the proof of my argument is that most of our teenagers are hugely ignorant of knowledge that I took for granted.

When I took the old GCE I entered the exam room almost naked. I had no backup course work. I had no Internet. I had absolutely no guidance or prior knowledge what the questions would be. I had swotted for weeks before the exam trying to cram as much as I could into my brain so that on the day I could regurgitate it onto my exam paper. Now that was stress!

But back to Ed Balls because I read today that he wants to introduce into the school curriculum three modern Languages, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic. Where on earth does he get these totally barmy ideas. I know that NoLab ministers are masters of the soundbyte but just how many Japanese, Mandarin or Arabic speakers does he believe are hanging around desperate to teach in our state comprehensives?

There is one other problem which Mr Balls ignores. To learn a foreign language properly one has to have an extensive knowledge of your own language. British schools have ignored the principles of English grammar for decades now. Ask most people under fifty years of age to explain adverbs, past participles, pronouns and the subjunctive they will look at you as if you are an alien being.

This is where we have let our children down because foreign schools realise the importance of grammar. That is the reason that all these European kids arrive on our shores speaking good English and beating our own kids to good jobs. Basically they have been educated!

I believe that our teachers will have a celebration when Mr Balls is no longer interfering with his weekly curriculum change. I think that parents should have a far bigger say in education but in effect listening to grandparents would be an even better idea

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