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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tail Wagging the Dog?


Is the tail wagging the dog? I have personally experienced how easy it is to be diverted by the latest news headline and go wandering off at a tangent. Who exactly is in charge? The media or the politicians? Focus, focus, focus. I am not diminishing the importance of the unfolding massacre in Mumbai, nor the newsworthiness of Woolies and credit crunch kittens , but whilst the environment will always be our number one priority, we must remain disciplined in our efforts to make good the British education system. Why is this such a struggle? I'm starting to realise that whilst every child is complicated issue! And your observation of what appears to be a disdain of academic elitism is right on the nose. I will come back to the 'Gifted and Talented' agenda right after I have conquered my own dyslexia with big numbers.

This TRILLION thing has disturbed me....what is a 'trillion'...what does it look like? Any old British blogger knows it's twelve zeros, and can freely converse in myriads for those Asiatic superpowers who may be blogging in. But what does it look like? How many paper aeroplanes are we talking about? (Lucky Geoff Hoon doesn't live in Thailand!) As a visual thinker I find this a challenging concept but lucky for me, a very clever man called Michael Blastland came to my rescue. I confess, he may know Evan Davies, but please don't hold that against him Polly. Michael explains that you can get 50, 000 pennies into a cubic foot and therefore:

''a trillion pennies would fill two St Paul's Cathedrals'' .

I feel so much better now. Shall I email him and ask him exactly how many Edmonton's Shadows I need to handfold in order to carpet and mulch Geoff Hoon's garden? It's sure to confuse and throw all plans for a third runway into disarray.

I do not have your head for numbers Polly, and I oppugn the flagrant brandishing of zeros willy-nilly by political statisticians. I can't help feeling they are toying with my mathematical inadequacies and it frightens and humiliates me. We everyday blokes don't like to admit our lack of understanding, so we pretend to understand and then disengage from the reality of the situation. We are baffled by scale, seduced by numerical promises and all sense of real comparison eludes us?

Blinded by this abuse of numbers, I sought clarity in a bottle of Grumpling Premium and a long walk with Edwina. I finished this fascinating article on 'The Numbers Game' with a clear head and a healthy dose of skepticism. What reassures me on the one hand and concerns me on the other, is that even the journalists reporting on the state of our economy don't have a clue either. Super. So we are all pretenders then aren't we? Therefore, it doesn't really matter who's wagging the tail afterall. Which brings us back to our original premise. If our politicians, economists and the journalists don't understand numbers, what the bl***y h*ll is wrong with our education and why are the rest of us frightened to stand up and be counted....we are clearly all numerically challenged and we should be wondering why. Of course I'm not referring to our Carol Voderman but it may explain our difficulty in nominating a Head of Education.
Which after much rambling brings me back to your point about academic elitism. I have laboured over the many documents spewing forth about maximising every child's potential. It seems that whilst many special needs are targetted in state schools, the bright kids get overlooked because of political correctness. It is worrying that India Knight believes the so-called educationalists are not up to their jobs and 'should be sacked.'Maybe that explains why we are struggling to find people for our new role. If she likes real ale too, she's my new nomination for Head of Education and Innovation. Although I admire Alex Dolan's you think she could work compatibly with India?
Isn't it about time that we all stopped googling inanely, penpushing and number-crunching and begin talking turkey, facing facts and take some common sense action, swiftly. Our state schooling is failing on every level but I suspect if we asked wannabe bloggers:
'What action would YOU take to kickstart our education system?'
the answers would be many and varied. I'm not sure I know the answer....not without another session at the Cock and Bull. Truth is, leading educationalists have not been allowed a platform to air their dirty washing without risking career and disgrace. How can we deal with a problem if we won't even acknowledge it exists. I applaud Alex Dolan's courage...I suspect many of us are not shocked. But how many of us are prepared to do something about it? Hmmph?
Talking of tail wagging, must feed Edwina and take some deep breaths.
A trillion times yours,
Ivor X