Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't let the C stream near the Meccano

A SCHOOL in Scotland has introduced lessons in applying fake tan after pupils were found to be popping out at lunchtime for a quick sunbed session.

Given that two out of three teachers now appears to be a convicted paedophile, is this altogether wise?

I know it’s a terrible cliché, but you really couldn’t make it up when it comes to the horrendous situation in our schools. And seeing as our education system was nominated by Mr Blah as his first three priorities on coming to office, you can only wonder what state it would be in if he wasn’t trying so hard.

The eradication of anything that could possibly be considered elitist, the see-sawing of admissions policy, the petty over-regulation inspired by the compensation culture, the obsession with meaningless performance targets, the bar-lowering of exam pass rates to the point where qualifications are worthless … is it any wonder that many university graduates can’t even read and write properly?

Am I missing something here? It can’t be that hard to sit 30 children down and teach them basic facts, can it? And, at the same time, instil some discipline and moral values?

Of course teachers are always ready to shift the blame onto the parents, and in some instances they may have a case. But it’s the State’s comfort blanket of excuses that allows lazy parents to dodge responsibility.

No-one has a naughty child any more. They either have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or (and let us welcome this week’s newly-invented evilness alibi) something called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It was all so different when I were a lad. If, for instance, I’d been taken home by the police for dangling a classmate by his legs over the edge of a tower block in a dispute over the lucrative dinner money racket, my old man would have knocked me into next week if I’d claimed to be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder rather then just being an opportunist wannabe gangster.

Now you can’t even lay a finger of a hulking teenager without being dragged through the courts, put on the sex offenders register and given a job as a teacher.

And no-one has thick kids anymore. They all have dyslexia. Well it’s time that we laid that myth. When I were a lad, we didn’t have dyslexia. We had A streams, B streams and C streams.

The A stream did Shakespeare (and at big school we did Latin and Chaucer in our first year), the B streak could tie their own shoelaces and the C stream weren’t allowed anywhere near the Meccano set because they would swallow all the little nuts and bolts. It was natural selection.

Now the bright kids get held back by the thick kids and they all end up with nine A-levels and a place at university so no-one is any the wiser until they start work and turn out to be utter imbeciles. And seeing as half of them will be joining the Turkey Army, that probably won’t turn out to be career-threatening anyway.

There is a cast iron argument in favour of my theories. John Prescott failed his 11-plus. What more evidence could you ever need of that system’s effectiveness?

IT’S NOT just in education that NuLabour’s policies keep changing quicker than a chameleon playing with a Rubik’s Cube.

First cannabis was decriminalised “for personal use”; now that they’ve discovered that it turns people into paranoid schizophrenics it’s about to be banned again. (Although this “personal use” thing always troubled me. Where did they think people bought it from? Over the counter at Tesco, or from highly-organised criminal drug smuggling gangs?)

Then binge drinking was deemed to be evil, just before 24-hour opening was introduced. Now it’s the turn of what feminists call the “sex industry”. Kerb-crawlers will in future be shot, but up to three prostitutes can set up a brothel in the semi next door to you and it’s all quite above board. (And why three? Is it buy one, get one free?) Who’s running this bloody country? The Mad Hatter?

MAYBE I’M just not cut out for modern life. Rarely does a day pass without me having to stop and shake my head in bafflement at some new development.

Last week we pondered the provenance of Bernard Matthew’s Turkey Ham. Is it ham or is it turkey? Surely the public has a right to know. This week there were TV adverts for something called Warburton’s Riddlers, which turn out to be bread rolls baked with cheese ALREADY inside them. What witchcraft is this? Send for the ducking stool.

And then there’s global warming. For the last decade, people with beards who wear jumpers made out of yoghurt have been droning on at us about saving the planet and the terrible fate that awaits us if we keep chopping down the Amazon rain forest.

Now it turns out that it’s those self-same trees that are causing global warming by churning out almost a third of the methane gas entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Add farting cows to the equation and we’re lucky we can breathe at all. And look what happens when you light a fag. Buncefield.

So instead of vegetarianism and tree-planting, what we really need to save the planet is more burgers served on mahogany picnic tables. Stick that in your ecologically friendly pipe and smoke it. (I don’t trust whales either. And those baby seals look a bit shifty.)

ONE IN six teenagers believes they will find success through celebrity, according to one of those inane polls. And more than one in ten would jack in their so-called studies today if they could appear on television.

This is a dangerous obsession destined to end in disappointment. But when the nonentity that is Chantelle walks out of the Big Brother house and straight into a one-hit wonder recording contract, it’s easy to see how our kids are seduced … and not just by their teachers.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone not impressed with the speed of Thai justice, of anyone who’s never called a policeman’s horse “gay”, or of anyone who knows where those “begging” figures of crippled children in leg irons that used to be outside shops have all gone to. You’re lucky to see a fibreglass guide dog these days.


Blogger The Weardale Militia said...

Some of us old hands remember Latin and we did not take to it very well. In fact my old wooden desk with a lid on it and an ink well had a carving in side "Latin is a dead language as dead as dead can be, it killed the ancient Romans and now its killing me. Then it was French and German that became popular not because of Europe but just in case we had to go over the channel and free the French again. Now its text speak lessons or as Julius Ceasar would say "Ey 2 Bruty".
Perhaps Tony "Grinning Man " Blah is correct and far thinking. Perhaps text speak is the new language.

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cor blimey, I'm glad you didn't have anything to do with my education.

FYI, Dyslexia doesn't occur because you are a dimwit. Any more, for that matter, than appendicitis occurs because you are always thinking of food.

To think, and dare I say, write that the two are related puts your own knowledge well into the C stream. Step away from the Meccano with your hand in the air.

To think, in your world, I would have been a C stream dimwit instead of a sucessful engineer with a honours degree and 20 sucessful and productive years employment under his belt.

Of course, there is way too much of the "it's never the childs fault" syndrome these days, and I was never short of a boot up the backside from my father as a reminder to stay on the straight and narrow.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater by mixing real conditions with real and effective remidies to todays fashionable psuedo-science.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure dyslexia probably exists, but does anyone really accept that it is as rife as the so-called experts who derive an income from testing for it would have us believe?

I have two nieces, one who was diagnosed some time ago and the other (older) one much more recently. While I genuinely believe the younger (despite her playing on it when it suits her): the older niece, I am quite certain, is simply an idle waster—along with a good portion of the other two-thirds of her college class that have been late diagnosed.

Who is responsible for my older niece being barely literate and numerate? The school and her parents!

Not to worry though, the way she’s going she won’t need an education as she’ll get drunk once too often and end up with a nice income from the state some nine months later.

Of course there are members of her extended family that could see this coming, but why would she listen to us instead of her parents—their way leaves much more time for texting and drinking.

Rather than accept that society is going to hell in a handbasket woven by the liberals from the nasal hair of do-gooders and hippies: it is all too easy to find some medical complaint or unsavoury element to blame for each new crisis—you wouldn’t want to accept any of the blame yourself, after all.

If those who apportion blame were fans of a certain American cartoon focussing on the adventures of four school kids, do doubt everything would be being blamed on the crab people!

Anyway, rather than keeping the C stream away from the Meccano—we should be: investing in as much Meccano as possible; removing all of the warning labels; and doling it out for free on street corners.

Primitive true—but natural selection at its best!

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Latin. I still have the scars from blackboard dusters winged at great pace by my Latin teacher in an attempt to get me to pay attention!
It must have worked, because I still occasionally remember a smattering.
And yes, I was in the A stream, for what it's worth. Of late, I have come in contact with some of Mr Blah's potential turkey army recruits on the tertiary education unemployment avoidance scheme (that's university to the C streamers). Some of these are capable of constructing a sentence in written English without the benefit of a verb. Still, I suppose that might be required in the new text-speak rules of grammar!

2:14 PM  

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