A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Exam results in South Africa are bad but the exams themselves may actually be quite good
Previous entry: Charles F. Kettering on education and inventiveness
Friday December 28 2007

It often happens that in the relatively unbuttoned atmosphere of the comments section, things are revealed which don’t make it to the official bit of a blog.  Here is David Thompson, commenting on his own recent posting, on the subject of how he remembers his comprehensive school:

I have less-than-fond memories of my own comprehensive schooling. I remember the continual background disorder and the demoralised atmosphere, both so common to comprehensive schools. I have particularly vivid memories of two of my left-leaning teachers lecturing me on the “selfishness” of my complaints regarding my substandard education. It was, apparently, “wrong” of me to assume that my education was for my own benefit, rather than society’s.

Yet an “inclusive” comprehensive education is still presented as a credible, even righteous, model – despite decades of failure and frustration. The belief seems to be that a failed experiment can somehow be made to work by demonizing the alternatives, or by measuring its failure in increasingly tendentious ways. And when pro-comprehensive pundits say, “All children should be able to fulfill their potential,” there seems to be little recognition of what that might actually entail. For instance, a couple of days ago I heard a leftist educator insisting that the most able pupils should be “obliged” to academically “mingle” with the less competent for the sake of “social cohesion” – and regardless of what effect this might have on the able children’s own preferences and academic performance.

“Mingle”.  Makes it sound like a cocktail party, doesn’t it?