Education Education Education – Scottish Election 2007

So much of this election has been focusing on a very large topic, the potential for Scottish Independence. I am not for independence, I am for more national identity, I am for the Scottish Parliament and devolution.

I think there are greater issues in this election and more fundamental and direct impacts to the Scottish people.

Education is a big thing in my head. It is as much a cultural issue as much as a provision of the services and it is not only about nursery, school and university.

Education is an issue about engaging people with subject and not forcing them down predefined routes. Not everyone is academically orientated, I wasn’t I really struggled with study, so we have to find ways to teach people to learn first rather than getting them to learn from the word go! There should also be options for both following the bog standard high school path. Yes, everyone does need a command of the English language and maths, but we do not all need to know Shakespeare or integration and differentiation! We should all have access to it and it should be explained what it can do for us if we do study it, but at the same time everyone should have the access to basics like letter writing, reading, budgeting and working out what the APR of a loan or credit card means to them!

Education should start early. Every child should have a nursery place at 3, yet publicly funded educational crèches should be available and encouraged. We cannot underestimate how much we “set ourselves” in those first few critical years of life, yet education (free as much as possible) should be available throughout out our whole lives.

I do feel that at 16/17/18 it is far to early to make life determining decisions on what career path we wish to take. At those ages we should be given the opportunities to go an explore various options that us.

Six month opportunities; four over 2 years; paid.

These should have a proper structure to them to provide a good insight to a profession and it should be mandatory for firms to provide places; worked out on employee base, industry and skill sets. Obviously there would not be a placement as a surgeon, but a medical themed placement may encourage future nurses and doctors. Class room assistants may well do the same for teachers.

However there will be people who know what they want and can go straight in to Further or Higher Education. This should be funded for all, irrespective of when you go and should get 1.5 attempts, therefore you can complete a qualification and them, as people do, go back and retrain in later life and only have to pay, at most, half the cost of the second qualification.

The current student debt compared to Scottish graduate income needs to be addressed.

We also have to look at the cultural issues of education. In may areas doing well at school is seen as something of the ‘higher social classes’. Kids doing well at school are seen as geeks, swots and snobs. These attitudes are not just from the other kids but from their parents and their cultural background. I am no sociologist but we need to look at these factors and realise that one size education doesn’t fit all.

Language is another growing issue within the UK as a whole. Most EU countries have a population with growing proficiency in at least one other language. In the UK we do not now have a mandatory language class. Why not? Well I think it is taught wrong and has failed. We need to introduce language as ‘fun and interesting’ thing to learn. A 6 month conversational french/german/spanish course to whet the appetite of those wanting more, but still to give those not wanting more a basic level. No writing or complicated structure. Make it easier and include a school trip at the end to the country! Again the education system has to pick up most of the tab for this.

We need an education structure that delivers the best it can for Scotland, not just the best it can for those who can afford it.

This education structure should not discriminate of any grounds, least of all age! We need to encourage life long learning. More adult learning centres, within schools and without.

More practical skills along with the academic.

More availability for after hours activities for those at schools, including later evening thing that are fun. Chess clubs may suit the minority, but car mechanics, cycling and running clubs, book clubs all need to be available and free. We need to engage students from schools, ALL students, and see what they would be interested in doing in the evenings. Youth clubs with pool halls…..

What I am saying is that “An Education Act to bring in sweeping changes to the current system.” : “Make Scotland’s education ‘the best in the world by 2020’.” : “Open 250 new and refurbished schools and bring in 1,000 new teachers to cut class sizes.” all say good things, but are the treating a local symptom of the malaise that is covering Scottish education, or are they really looking at route causes and effects of the illness of the system and the subsequent issues that it leaves on Scottish society.

Waiting for a satisfaction that never comes……

I have pondered this one on and off for years, the in-built need that we have as a species for MORE.

I think it is a basic human desire to have possessions and things. A kind of accumulation of STUFF throughout life so that we can keep up with the Jones’ (originally the caveman next door?), or maybe even be the Jones’ that people are keeping up with, and then there is the thing about having STUFF for people to remember us by when we are dead and gone. STUFF = immortal memory?

I think that the socialist idea does not work for human beings, well not in the ways it has been practised so far. We just have to look at the golden taps of the Kremlin, the Romanian palaces of Ceaucescu and who knows how they live in Beijing, but it will not be in the slums that some Chinese live in. Looking further into China you now see millionaire sprouting up; surely against the socialist ideal?

So I think that kind of proves that we are a STUFF orientated species. We cannot all be equal, we want MORE STUFF than the person next to us.

Then is this the question? What does MORE actually get us or give to us?

Well sure getting STUFF gives us a high. Why do we get a ‘buzz’ out of going shopping? I actually dislike shopping, I have once or twice said I hate shopping, but that is not true. I dislike it. I dislike shopping for myself more than anything. I can handle, at a push shopping for others or going shopping and watching others. However in general I dislike the whole thing. As a child I was known as a spendthrift, a kid who didn’t really like parting with his cash on STUFF. As an adult I am pretty much the same, but that does not mean I am loaded! Far from it!

I procrastinate about spending money and I wonder why. I have had a fridge and a freezer picked out for 6 months months, yet I still have not bought them. Winter sales have gone when I could have got them cheap, but I didn’t. Why not? Well cause I have a fridge and a freezer and whilst they may be 12 years old, they do the job. They are not that energy efficient, for sure, but they keep things cold and fresh… most of the time.

I had the same thing with the TV, it was 5 years younger than me when I got rid of it (last year and I am in my early 30s). Why did I give it the push, well it broke. Even then I just got a new standard TV, no whizzing TFT/plasma 40 incher. Just a wee standard TV. In most ways I don’t think I want MORE STUFF, but I don’t think I am tight. When I do need to spend money I look for the best for the value and sometimes I do go with the heart rather than the head. A Div-X DVD recorder cause I got a new digi-box. I could have just kept the VCR.

I wear clothes until they are well and truly done and even then I sometimes get told that things are looking old and tatty long before I think they are.

Where is all this going? Well I think we shop, we buy, we consume for some need for satisfaction and completion. Some hidden human compulsion. We want MORE because we think it is going to make us better. Better people, better family, better friends, better lovers, better neighbours. We want MORE because we think it is going to make us happier. Happier people, happier families, happier friends, happier lovers, happier neighbours.

In short we want MORE because we think it is going to satisfy us. It is going to help us match the much vaulted celebrity lifestyle that is rolled out by the tabloids and gloss magazines; that is peddled by the advertisers and politicians. This is relatively new creation of western society, go back 20 years and we were not so object orientated and we were careful with STUFF.

Has illusionary wealth, STUFF bought on ever expanding credit lines, changed us that much and made us believe we can be satisfied by all this STUFF?

I don’t think it does though. I think very few of us ever become truly satisfied (I am not) and those that do, they are the people who either don’t have STUFF and have never got into the cycle of STUFF, or those really don’t care about it, or the image that the lack of STUFF, or MORE STUFF, says about them.

So where does consumerism and MORE STUFF get us? I am not sure about the answer to that, it is one I think I have to explore. You can bet that it is probably an environmentalists nightmare as resources get gobbled up for the next fashion and the production of MORE STUFF. Please don’t think I am some green activist I do buy some STUFF and think that there is a need for some of the STUFF……

This is really just to put down some of my thoughts, so I can mull them through for the next stage. :oD