An interesting claim

No matter where you come from or what your circumstances are, we will drive up school standards to ensure opportunities abound.

From Keir Starmer.

Presumably they’re going to sell off the state sector to the public schools then. Given that’s where the higher standards are….


So here-s – another – thing I don’t know about.

How much of education is teaching stuff and how much is simply corralling the blighters as they age?

Or, to be more precise.

So, teaching a 5 year old basic numbers is a time consuming task. Lots of repetition and so on.

Teaching a 16 year old would, I imagine, be easier. The concepts are more likely to be grasped, rote learning would be reduced. I think.

I’m also aware that some things rather can’t be taught later. Languages to true fluency tend to have to start with young brains, going back later doesn’t quite cut it.

So, leaving aside that “later doesn’t work” point and to stick with the first.

What ends up being the question is how much of the education system is trying to jam in stuff as soon as possible – stuff that could be learned more easily later – and how much of it is actually necessary to learn right now?

In one sense the point is obvious. Any of us could go do a GCSE in a few weeks couple of months and yet this takes 15 year olds 2 years. Some of that is experience of course but that’s also part of the effect I think. It’s easier to learn stuff with a more developed brain. Umm, maybe.

The implication of this is about the missed year of schooling just now. How much does this actually matter? If education is largely waiting until brains have developed enough to learn the stuff easily then missing a period doesn’t particularly matter. It can be picked up easily enough as an older person.

On the other hand, if everything has to be taught and taught and taught then missing some few months will delay completion by that same few months.

My assumption is that both effects are in play, as with so many other things. We can’t go teach division until addition and subtraction are mastered. But it’s also a heck of a lot easier to explain to a 16 year old than a 10 year old that, in fact, ratios are fractions and fractions are ratios. They’re just different expressions of the same base idea. The concept of something being the same but different is easier to grasp that little later.

So, anyone know?

Given the state of the academy I doubt this is something anyone has ever bothered to study – far more important to detail this year’s woke necessities – formally but still, anyone know?

No, this would work nicely

Foundational texts like The Canterbury Tales and Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf would no longer be taught under proposals to scrap medieval literature.

Instead the English faculty will be refocused to drop centuries of the literary canon and deliver a “decolonised” curriculum devoted to diversity.

Academics now facing redundancy were told via email: “The aim of our proposals (is) to offer a suite of undergraduate degrees that provide modules which students expect of an English degree.”

New modules described as “excitingly innovative” would cover: “A chronological literary history, a selection of modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity, a decolonised curriculum, and new employability modules.”

The employability module might start with “Do STEM not English” perhaps?

This is interesting

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the Government had corrected “an obviously nonsensical position”, adding that ministers must “do their duty” by closing all primary and secondary schools to contain the virus.

An expert in epidemiology, is she? Or just another union leader out to get her members paid for doing fuck all for a couple of months?

You know what? This might not work

Ms. Foor’s mother left the family when she was 4. Her father, Michael Foor, dropped out of college at the Altoona campus of Penn State to raise her and her older brother.

He moved to Breezewood, Pa., a turnpike town near Maryland and West Virginia, where he worked as a waiter and cashier, or took odd jobs. Sometimes he turned to welfare and unemployment, food stamps and food banks. Ms. Foor pitched in, starting at the age of 14, working at Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s.

“I saw the middle-aged people working there and I thought, ‘If I don’t go to college, that’s going to be me,’” she said.

“I don’t think how I grew up is necessarily a bad thing,” she continued. “It taught me the value of a dollar and what it means to work hard and I never look down on another person. But college is the light at the end of the tunnel that will make everything OK.”

Well, OK, could work.

“College is the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rachel Foor, a senior at I.U.P. pursuing journalism.

Ah, maybe not. An industry that’s just halved its workforce over the past decade might not be that graduate way out…..

Dr Jill Biden

The Wall Street Journal has come under a torrent of denunciation for publishing a “sexist” opinion article that calls Jill Biden, the first lady-in-waiting, “kiddo”, and questions her right to use “Dr” in front of her name.

The article, written by a former adjunct professor at Northwestern University Joseph Epstein, purports to offer Biden “a bit of advice”. Opening on the provocative note of calling her “Madame (sic) First Lady – Mrs Biden – Jill – kiddo”, the author goes on to recommend that she drop the honorific of “Dr” before her name.

“‘Dr Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” Epstein writes. He justifies his condescension towards her title on grounds that it referred to an “Ed D – a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware”.

Perhaps not the politest article ever written. And I’m not entirely au fait with American practises. The English solution is fairly simple. Which is that a PhD doesn’t use the title Dr. outside purely academic arenas. That’s reserved – socially, societally, not formally – for MDs.

Pointing out that this might be the way to do it doesn’t deserve a torrent of denunciation of course.

New findings from British academia

Where would we be without all these people not investigating hovercraft, jet engines and nuclear power?

Via email:

The distress caused by the Coronavirus pandemic means parents should maintain the “vital tonic” of the Father Christmas myth for children this year, psychologist urges

For further information:

University of Exeter

Press Office


The Guardian interviews Owen Jones

Universities must act to eradicate discrimination against working-class students, including the mockery of regional accents, equality campaigners have said.

A Guardian investigation has found widespread evidence of students at some of the country’s leading universities being ridiculed over their accents and backgrounds, in some cases prompting them to leave education.

The analysis found discrimination against working-class students was particularly prevalent among Russell Group universities. The group, which is made up of 24 institutions, has a reputation for academic excellence.

In a series of Guardian interviews, students past and present reported bullying and harassment over their accents and working-class backgrounds. Some said their academic ability was questioned because of the way they spoke.

Young Owen, famously, listening to George Formby records while at Oxford in order to preserve his accent.

Wait for the response here

First all-online global school launches, offering private education at fraction of the cost
King’s College Online will give pupils access to more than 60 prestigious schools to complement new digital learning programme

It actually seems to run very much like the Open University. Online lectures and classes, some visits to campus maybe. Just for GCSEs and A levels.

We can expect massive amounts of botching over this. And no comparisons at all to the Open University of course. For that second is the state which makes it Good.

Tom Lehrer on satire

Next in an exhausting list of Things You Kind of Hoped Were Satire but Turned Out to Be True — this, from the academic Sunny Singh:

“I get regular invites to debate on various platforms. I always say no. Because debate is an imperialist capitalist white supremacist cis heteropatriarchal technique that transforms a potential exchange of knowledge into a tool of exclusion & oppression.”

Sunny runs a creative writing course at one of the country’s worst universities (according to the league tables), London Metropolitan.

At least it’s not one of the best universities – yet.

There’s a solution to this you know

We are supposed to be modelling how to be good citizens in a time of Covid, but I do not see a single student wiping down their desk or washing their hands in the numerous outdoor wash basins that have been installed.

You are the teacher, you are in loco parentis. You tell ’em. And if they don’t then punish them for not.

That being what teachers are for?

The new offence of fucking while black

We knew, of course, of the offence of driving while black. That demonstration of the racism inherent in the society etc. But this is a new one:

“To an escalating degree over my adult life. I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness,” she wrote.
“I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring.”

Note what she insists is worse – not only but also! – which is that fucking while pretending to be black is indeed worse.

A bit odd we’d probably think but then there’s no explaining academia.

She also doesn’t explain quite what it is that she’s done. I assume it’s that she has said that she’s black when she ain’t.

Hmm, OK, and?

Elizabeth Warren was unavailable for comment.

Dear Zoe

This is called grading on the curve:

The decision in England, where results come out on Thursday, is more rigid still: alongside their predictions, teachers were asked to put their students in order, with none jointly ranked. Then, in what Ofqual called its “direct centre-level approach”, the predictions were largely disregarded; instead, schools have been allocated a fixed number of As, Bs etc based on their performances in previous years. Students’ results will rely jointly on where they were placed relative to their peers, and how students did in the years before them.

The aim is to sort pupils into bright, not so and not. So, rank order does this. What is your problem?

Teachers beg to differ

At least, teachers’ unions are aiming to differ:

Almost 9 in 10 parents say their children will go back to school in the new term, ONS reveals

There was a comment here that now is the time to fire all the teachers, derecognise the unions and then rehire those actually desired and those only.

There’s merit in that.

Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Your MBA Program

If you’ve been out in the working world for a while—and you should be if you are going after an MBA—returning to the classroom can be an adjustment. This is a critical juncture in your career, and it’s important that you hit the ground running and get as much out of the program as you can.

How Will You Pay?

There are a few routes for funding an MBA. Your employer might contribute toward the costs, or you may have savings. Ideally, you’ll be able to focus entirely on school without having to work, but this is not always possible. Still, arranging your finances so that you can think about school instead of worrying about money is important. You can take out a mix of federal and private student loans. For private loans, in addition to traditional sources, such as banks and credit unions, you can often find online lenders who offer low interest rates and repayment plans.

Take Advantage of Your Time

Being in an MBA program puts you in a unique situation to access a number of different opportunities. On-campus recruitment means that major companies will be around to give you a sense of what working with them would be like, but you shouldn’t stop there. Extracurricular activities and clubs can give you more information and experience. Explaining to people that you are an MBA student can often lead to access you might not otherwise have to informational interviews, conferences and data. In addition to the networking opportunities offered by your peers and professors, try meeting people at seminars and even cold contacting via LinkedIn or other methods. This is a time to be bold.


You need to strike a balance between learning as much as you can and not losing sight of your ultimate goals. One way you might approach this is allowing yourself to take a broader view in your first year that you narrow in your second to hone in on what you see yourself doing after you complete your degree. Having a long-term goal in mind can also be important because an MBA program can start to feel like too much of a good thing, with an overwhelming number of opportunities that can make you feel stressed out instead of excited if you aren’t sure where you want to be in five or ten years.


With all these opportunities and your driving ambition, it can be easy to make your graduate program the center of your life, but ironically, this might actually be the quickest path to burnout. Prioritize your studies without making them the be-all and end-all of your existence. Balance them with something that you can enjoy and that re-energizes you. For many people, this might be some type of physical activity, such as running or yoga, or it might be cooking or refinishing old furniture. In general, you should make an effort to continue pursuing your outside interests and maintaining the relationships you had prior to entering your MBA programs. Your family and friends who have cheered you on up to this point can be valuable sources of support and perspective during this exciting, challenging period.

Good question

Instead, we have thousands upon thousands of young people, often from poor backgrounds, saddled with £30,000 of debt after three years of gender realignment studies at the University of West Norfolk (formerly Downham Market Tech).

Where did he get this idea from?

Given the Telegraph’s paywall

We don’t know the reason that the expert goes on to give:

The Government proposals for some pupils to focus on English and maths when they return to school in September could lead to “cultural apartheid”, an expert has warned as headteachers vow to ignore the Government’s advice….

Our task therefore is to ponder what reasons there possibly could be.

Ideas along the lines of, well, literacy and numeracy are waacist, innit, are too obvious. What therefore is that argument?

The winning prize is employment at the fool think tank of your choice.

So here’s an interesting test then

We’ve been told for generations now that the secret to a better education is smaller class sizes. We must,m therefore, hire many more teachers. True, this has largely been said by the teachers’ unions but even that source might occasionally have a valid point. Although, when we consider that teaching is the profession with the lowest A level grades at entry perhaps not.

So, now we get to find out:

Maximum class size of 15 for England’s returning school pupils
Children will be kept in groups around half the size of normal classes but unions raise fears

Let’s see shall we? There’s going to be a massive rise in school performance? Or not? And someone is taking notes about this, right?