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Next entry: Action for Home Education wiki
Previous entry: A world where everyone knows your GCSE results
Wednesday February 13 2008

imageSome years ago I met Peter Ryley, at a conference in Manchester (I think), at which we both were speakers (again: I think), and we got on well, despite coming from distinct (if just about touching - via “anarchism") parts of the intellectual landscape.  So when I came across his blog, I read.  I continue to read.

Peter’s biggest meme just now is the UK Government’s decision to cut back on further education, of the sort that involves a change of direction and hence studying something different to a level already reached in some previous course of university study.

I have several relevant prejudices which I will list briefly, by way of an explanation for not knowing what I think about this argument.

First, I am against Government financial “support” for anything.  I want a free market in education, and in as much else as can possibly be contrived.  Regulars here will know this.

But second, my time at university left me with a prejudice in favour of “mature students”.  This is not a universal prejudice.  Another common prejudice is that mature students are spongers who refuse to grow up and work for a living.  Fair enough, there were a few of them at my university also.  But my experience was mostly that mature students, especially those who had already done real jobs for a while but who were back doing education for a change of career direction, were people who had decided to be there and who were there with a plan of learning and a real gusto to pitch into the material, rather than adolescents who had merely arrived there along tracks placed in front of them by others (like teachers and parents) and who tended to behave like overgrown schoolchildren.  University teachers loved mature students, because they were engaged students, and they thus had someone to engage with.  They could really get stuck into teaching them.  I can entirely understand why someone like Peter Ryley would be distraught at the idea of people like this no longer being so abundant in universities, and the drifting child syndrome becoming even more dominant than it is now.

The current trend says: spend a hugely excessive time doing education.  Then work without interruption.  Then “retire” and do nothing but arse around until you die.  I say: jump back and forth between all three constantly, from start to finish.

Meanwhile for a good summary of the current state of this debate, I recommend this, which I of course got to via a Peter Ryley posting.