"The key concern of education is inculcating the wisdom, intelligence and capacity for critical thought necessary for the next generation to assume responsibility for our world."
The key concern of education is inculcating the wisdom, intelligence and capacity for critical thought necessary for the next generation to assume responsibility for our world. In primary school, children need foundational skills of reading, writing and mathematics not simply to pass tests but in order to develop a love for knowledge. In secondary school, children should be introduced to more in-depth knowledge through teachers who have a passion for their subject and the expertise and confidence necessary to determine what children need to know. At university, students should engage with specialist scholarship and, at postgraduate level, be ready to contribute to our existing understanding.
At present, a poverty of low expectations presents complex knowledge, high culture, hard work and self-discipline as being beyond the reach of some children. Unequal access to a rich curriculum and a cult of relevance reproduces social inequalities.
The aim of education is not individual happiness, emotional well being or student satisfaction. Struggling to master challenging new ideas is often antithetical to short term contentment but ultimately worthwhile. The popular perception that children’s mental health is fragile can easily become a barrier to high academic expectations.
All children deserve to learn in a calm and orderly environment. Teachers, as experts in both subject knowledge and pedagogy, have authority in the classroom and should be supported in instilling the discipline and habits required for learning and living by their school’s senior leaders.
Parents, not teachers, should be responsible for raising children. It is not the place of the state, through schools, to determine the values or the political outlook children imbibe.
High quality vocational education and training needs to build upon, and not be seen as an alternative to, academic knowledge. This requires intellectual equivalence and parity of funding.