I can’t say I agreed with Tony Blair (Bliar? not sure) over many things but this was one quote I approved of wholeheartedly.
When I was married, my wife and I were discussing the ins and outs of paying for schooling for our daughter. An older friend, the guy who introduced us, related a story about his experiences. After marrying, he and his wife bought an Landrover and drove it from the UK to Australia. What is known as a right proper hard-core trek. In those days driving across the Middle East was possible as the religious bitching was at a relative lull. Not only was it a bold undertaking but the people they met left a lasting impression on them.
When Graham offers advice, you listen. He said that regarding children; you can only give them two things, love and education. That informed our choices re schooling and in getting divorced. Our daughter goes to a great school and she knows that, above all, that she is loved and that her Mummy and Daddy are friends. In all things to do with her we resolved to continue backing each other up so my daughter, H, got a single message. We may have our differences but we talk about and plan around H. As she is on the cusp of turning into a scheming teenager (they are all devious and scheming even if you think butter wouldn’t melt…) she knows that I won’t be sold the “but Mummy said…” story without checking first.
That aside, I got to thinking about my time in the Specials (Police Reserves for you dang foreigners). I was talking w. a mate today who is a full-time officer and we agreed that the vast majority of police time is spent dealing with a small but significant minority (and most are repeat customers) of the population. What common distinguishing feature is shared by these people? Most of them are thick, dense, dumb etc etc but I don’t actually believe that. I have always wondered if it was genetic but have decided that it is through lack of formal education. Sure, some of them will never be the brightest coal in the barbecue but I’ll bet they are capable of learning to read and write properly. Some are downright crafty and ingenious in the way they commit crime. In fact, they’d be a proper menace to society if they had basic Maths and English. I once spent 6 hours taking statements from two muppets that were being horrible to one another on Facebook. Neither of them seemed familiar with the concept of Unfriending someone. Gaaarrrgghh.
Amongst this small and select band of idiots, education seems to be actively sneered at and discouraged. Being unencumbered by burdensome basic literary and numeracy skills is something to be proud of. It seems that there needs to be lessons in education and the benefits of being educated. In Western society most countries have mechanisms for assisting those without the means to cope. In the UK we refer to the Welfare State and I believe passionately that this is a correct mechanism to have for those that actually require it. However, here comes the but, there needs to be some sort of active disincentive for those that shun the opportunity to learn and then expect to be supported by the state and waste police, doctor, teacher, court time – along with many other resources – as they know their rights. For all their knowledge of their rights there seems to be very few obligations in their mind.
This is a thorny question and much, much smarter people than me have approached it and to date failed to fix it. I believe that, a bit like National Service was obligatory back in the day, then being educated to a minimum standard should also be obligatory. You can just picture the enforcement officers. Imagine getting stop-checked by a man with suede patches on his elbows and be made to do basic maths and punctuate a sentence or get sent back to school in a big yellow bus. Stop tittering in the back, I know I wouldn’t pass the latter part of the test.
With an education around some of the basics of life the EDL, and many of the Tabloids, would die on their arse. Small minded and ill-informed rhetoric relies on people being too stupid to be able to process the facts and come to their own conclusion. Manipulative people with access to the poorly educated can then move in and control the dumb masses. With a basic education I daresay that many more people would have the intellectual toolkit to laugh at splinter groups and move on or the radical religious whoever is the hating flavour of the month. That poor bloody innocent soldier was hacked to death by impressionable morons, imho. Allah’s work. My arse. If there was any sort of a God then I reckon he’d frown on that, don’t you?