This week Tory Tim reckons the education system needs a shake-up, in his very own style of course
This week Tory TIM WORSTALL reckons the education system needs a shake-up, in his very own style of course.
I can’t be dealing with that Adam Smith fellow – far too big for his boots and much too much of a liberal for my liking.
Then there’s this problem he has trying to decide everything as if money were the point of it all.
Quite wrong of course.
He seems not to understand that those who matter have quite enough money already and those who don’t, don’t matter.
As would be obvious to anyone with any sense – that’s the way the Good Lord made the world. Everyone in their place.
But I will admit to liking one or two of the man’s ideas. This one about how the government should pay for education for example.
At first sight it seems ridiculous. If anyone wanted an employee who could read and write they’d obviously offer a position suitable only for those brought up in a household where they were taught to read and write.
Those from more humble backgrounds are, as God made them, suitable only for heavy labour – possibly some form of manufacture like those blasted pin factories. And we know this by their not being literate.
However, Smith brings up this idea of something called a ‘public good’. Not entirely sure myself of all the details but on education he says that having a completely literate population is a general benefit to us all – so we should all chip in a bit in taxes to make this happen.
If all were literate and numerate at public expense then I certainly would make a saving on the training of my young clerks.
And it would do wonders for the sales of my newsheets. It’s a tragically small percentage of the population who get the political instruction that goes along with the page three ankles these days.
So I am brought around, at least to the idea of Smith’s point. A small tax could be charged on some item that I don’t care about – hock say or dripping.
This is then used to create parish schools which even the poor can attend in order to learn their letters.
Adam, and I do know him well enough to call him Adam, is of course adamant (see what I did there? No wonder my sheets are beating that returned convict chappy’s, humour and pune’s what the hoi polloi like) that this should only be for the most basic level of education.
At university it should be as it was for him at Glasgow – students pay their professors directly for their lectures. Only way to stop the rot they’ve got at Oxford, making the academics actually interested in what and who they’re teaching.
But as I look across the centuries since this argument was made and accepted I find the fault in it. For the assumption is that if the government runs the schools then the snotdribblers will in fact become literate, thus providing that public good which justifies the taxation.
But as we look around the beginning of this 21st century of ours I am still finding that I must educate my young clerks before they can do anything useful. At least 20 per cent of those who have had 11 years of this compulsory state schooling are illiterate and innumerate.
A vastly larger number can only spell ‘lots of laughs’ as lol but then we did already mention the problems at Oxford.
The point being that the state is failing in its part of this bargain. They are not providing that public good which justifies the taxation. Thus we shall have to change the bargain.
My suggestion would be that we simply abolish the state actually running schools, trying to direct education, and instead leave them just with the financing through that taxation.
Any pupil can go to any school and the government pays what it pays now to itself.
The trick will be in the quality control. If 100 per cent of the pupils cannot read, write and at least deal with £sd by the time they are eleven the headmaster shall be horsewhipped out of the county.
A second failed attempt would mean condemnation to that profession where all who cannot teach, let alone do, end up – Grub Street. Ankle captions don’t write themselves you know.