Crass idiocy

The inescapable weight of my $100,000 student debt

MH Miller left university with a journal full of musings on Virginia Woolf and a vast financial burden. He is one of 44 million US graduates struggling to repay a total of $1.4tn. Were they right to believe their education was ‘priceless’?


I’m really pretty certain that both $100,000 and $1.4 trillion are prices.

In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt,

In May, I got a freelance contract with a newspaper that within a year would hire me full-time – paying me, after taxes, roughly $900 every two weeks. ….. the payments for my debt – which had been borrowed from a variety of federal and private lenders, most prominently Citibank – totalled about $1,100 a month.

Might not be a price you like. But it’s a price.

Great big hairy dangly bits

GCSE reforms will help boys catch up with girls because they prefer “big bang” exams, annual analysis has suggested.

A report by Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham suggested that the move away from coursework and towards exams will benefit male students.


You’ve changed the measurement system, not how well boys and or girls are doing.

Agreed with the effect of the change, sure. That concentration on coursework in the first place was because boys did better at the big bang exam, girls better at the coursework. So, to overcome that issue of the girls getting worse grades the system was changed. Now we’re changing it back.

OK. But it’s still just a change in the measurement system, not a change in how anyone is doing.

Does this mean what I think it does?

That’s without considering the impact of disadvantage on pupils who find learning harder

Thick kids are disadvantaged because they find learning harder?

She also thinks we’re thick as mince:

Conservative 2017 manifesto to force independent schools to sponsor a state school or risk losing their tax breaks (she later quietly dropped it). These are not insignificant sums. Between 2017-22, private schools will get tax rebates totalling £522m as a result of their status as charities.

£100 million a year in tax breaks. The education budget is some £90 billion. Yes, b. It’s not even a rounding error, is it?

The private schools also save the state the cost of educating 7% of children. At a very rough guess that’s a saving of £6 billion a year, isn’t it?

But then we all do think that Frances Ryan is thick as mince, don’t we?

Fairly silly

Maths textbooks should be banned because they intimidate pupils, a leading girls’ school headmistress has said.

Jane Prescott, head of Portsmouth High School said that students risk becoming anxious if they can see that their classmates are “galloping ahead” of them.

The move has been a “confidence booster” for girls, and allows them to “feel encouraged, and feel they are good at Maths”, Ms Prescott said.

That’s rather the comprehensive ideal run riot isn’t it?

Mustn’t let those who grasp the subject run ahead now, must we?

Isn’t that exotic

A teacher at one of the country’s leading boys’ schools has been charged with trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex.

Dr Ken Zetie, who taught at St Paul’s School for 17 years, is accused of attempting to arrange the liaison as part of an undercover police sting.

Wouldn’t working at a girls’ school have aided the quest?

Fairly specialist porn perhaps?

Possibly Rocco could weigh in with the professional discussion?

A transgender teaching assistant forced to quit her job after appearing in pornography could be thrown out of the profession by a tribunal.

I refuse to believe that “teaching assistant” is a profession. Other than that:

She said she had been ‘celebrating my femininity’ and declared: ‘As a feminist woman I am deeply opposed to pornography. Erotic imagery celebrates the beauty of the human body. I posed for erotic and not explicit images.’

Spouting the usual fashionable scrotals there. However:

Dr Williams, who previously worked at Llandrillo College at Rhos on Sea in North Wales, is accused of posing for 16 indecent or pornographic pictures intended for publication in an adult magazine.

Pornography is legal, indecency in a porno mag is quite obviously legal – the definition there of what is indecent enough to be illegal is pretty extreme – being trans is legal and thus all appears to be legal here.

At which point the prodnoses can get back into their boxes, can’t they?

Anyway, it all sounds rather educational. And aren’t today’s children supposed to be learning about the varied glories of human sexuality?

No, she’s still a student

Moreover, when education becomes something we can buy, return and refund, universities become less accountable.


Micha Frazer-Carroll is the welfare and rights officer at Cambridge University Students’ Union

No, no, it’s OK. She’s a student, we know that she’s ignorant and not yet educated, that’s why she’s a student, right?

This is going to cause ructions, isn’t it?

Schools with 20 per cent or more of pupils from poor backgrounds see lower attainment for all children, a global study has found.

Research by Lancaster University found that attainment for all pupils in a UK school falls if as few as one in five students are classed as disadvantaged.

The study, which compared educational attainment across nine countries, concluded that pupils in the UK are more affected by the social background they come from than any other factor.

Researchers said the figures showed that the “tipping point” at which a school became a “sink school” which holds its pupils back was based on “quite a low proportion of disadvantaged students going to that school”.

“As soon as you’ve got a lot of disadvantaged students in a school, that is going to cause a drop-off in the performance of a randomly picked student from that schools,” said Geraint Johnes, a professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, and co-author of the study, published in the European Journal of Operational Research.

Letting the chavs in degrades outcomes for everyone.

What’s really going to be amusing is watching them sorting out what the party line should be on this? Do we insist upon chavs in every school so all are equal? I’m sure someone will use that argument. But what is going to emerge as that party line interpretation of this research?

So where are the cries of academic freedom?

A senior academic is being investigated by University College London after he was found to have hosted an annual conference in which speakers debated ideas on eugenics and intelligence.

Since 2015, Dr James Thompson has overseen the London Conference on Intelligence, which has seen a researcher who has previously advocated child rape online speak on campus on three occasions.

The university was last night attempting to establish how the honorary lecturer was able to host the event without informing senior officials, who were unaware of which speakers would be attending.

Dr Thompson, a member of the university’s psychology department, has now been blocked from hosting any future events while an investigation is carried out.

It came as details about the conference emerged yesterday, revealing that papers presented at the event include research on the alleged links between genetics and racial disparities in intelligence.

It’s amusing, no, that when eugenics was a standard left wing belief universities could and did discuss it not just with impunity but approval. Now that exactly the same beliefs are now seen as somehow right wing they are to be drummed off campus.

Well, what did you expect?

White working class boys are being left behind because of the “negative impact” of a focus on ethnic minorities and women, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet has said.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said cultural change is needed among Britain’s white working class to encourage more young people to strive to succeed.

She told The Spectator magazine white working class boys had been left “at the bottom of the heap”.

She said: “The culture towards migrant families towards education is considerably different to the culture of British families, that’s something I’ve noticed.

Design an education system not for white working class boys and you’ll end up with an education system that doesn’t serve white working class boys well, won’t you?

Ermm, well, sorta

It’s disappointing to see Indigenous people underrepresented in engineering. Our ancestors are the original engineers. They have a deep knowledge and understanding of the land and the sky. They used their knowledge to form a lifestyle, innovating to solve everyday problems and live comfortably. The boomerang is a piece of aerodynamic engineering that has inspired many designs today.

Actually, in terms of engineering, the Abos (especially the Tasmans) are known for the connection between population size and the loss of technology. That population gets small enough and dispersed enough and then cultural transmission of things already known (fish hooks for example) falls down over the generations. Tasmania had technological regression after the seas rose….

It’s entirely great that the bird likes engineering, good on her, and she does seem to have found her metier, lucky thing. But the history’s a bit off there.

Yes, OK then, why not?

Is it not time that our heavily subsidised universities restricted entry to those students who have passed through the state education system? Let those who pay for private secondary education also pay for private university education.
Alan G Stow

Be interesting when state pupils can choose Islington Technical College or Brent Further Education College and the private sector has Oxford, Cambridge and the LSE to choose from.

Isn’t this rather the problem?

A decolonised curriculum would bring questions of class, caste, race, gender, ability and sexuality into dialogue with each other, instead of pretending that there is some kind of generic identity we all share.

Is an English curriculum really supposed to be about questions of class, caste, race, gender, ability and sexuality?

Or, you know, maybe about English?

Oddly, English itself is a colonial subject

Cambridge University’s English Literature professors will be forced to replace white authors with black writers, under new proposals put forward by academic staff following student demands to “decolonise” the curriculum.

For the first time, lecturers and tutors will have to “ensure the presence” of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) writers on their course, under plans discussed by the English Faculty’s Teaching Forum.

The move follows an open letter, penned by Lola Olufemi, Cambridge University Student Union’s women’s officer and signed by over 100 students, titled “Decolonising the English Faculty”.

“For too long, teaching English at Cambridge has encouraged a ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others,” the letter said.

“What we can no longer ignore, however, is the fact that the curriculum, taken as a whole, risks perpetuating institutional racism.”

They don’t seem to be noting the manner in which English is colonialism itself.

The Angles, Jutes and Saxons come over here and replace the Romano Celts – not, perhaps, genetically but certainly linguistically. In England that is. Vikings come over, beat everyone up and ad some Old German back into the mix. Normans conquer all and throw Romance back in. The resultant mongrels go conquer a third of the world and spread that language.

The only reason anyone other than one of those Celt/Angle/Viking/Norman mutants speaks the damn language is because of colonialism. The existence of the language in the first place is colonialism.

It’s an, umm, 800 year old language native to a bunch of white people on a damp island. How the hell do we derace, decolonise, that?

Sure, anyone who wants to understand persuasion, rhetoric, should be looking to MLK’s speeches. James Baldwin did some pretty hot stuff. There’s a certain amount of difficulty in replacing Chaucer and Shakespeare though, given the spread of the language back then, eh? Even Austen’s too early for there to be much written by anyone of a duskier hue.

There’s an important number missing here

Oxford University has been accused of “social apartheid” after figures showed that nearly one in three colleges failed to admit a single black British A-level student in 2015.

Data requested by David Lammy, the former Labour minister for higher education, and published by the Guardian, showed that 10 out of 32 Oxford colleges did not admit a black British pupil with A-levels in 2015.

How many applied? Without that we’ve no chance at all at working out where the filtering is taking place, have we?

Well, yes, I think we could support this

The former Labour education minister Andrew Adonis has reignited one of the oldest controversies in British education by calling for the clock to be turned back on polytechnics granted university status.

Lord Adonis told a House of Lords committee that the government’s decision 25 years ago to allow more than 30 polytechnics to take the title of university was a mistake, and argued for the removal of the status from what he termed “the lower-performing former polytechnics”.

“I do think it was a very serious mistake – and I would never have done it as minister – to have rebadged all of the polytechnics as universities in 1992, which was a reform done without any proper consideration or advice,” Adonis told the committee, during a hearing on education funding.

And of course the third grade, like Islington Technical School, should be on a level lower once again.

Hmm, maybe the resignation is a good idea

A spokesperson for Blavatnik said his gift was for the committee that has been responsible for organising US presidential inaugurations since 1901 and that he had never donated to Trump. But Rothstein, a specialist on corruption, called the donation “incomprehensible and irresponsible” in his resignation letter.

The academic subsequently told the Guardian he had received hundreds of messages of support about his decision, adding: “I’m not going to be the Blavatnik chair of government and public policy because I’m not going to give legitimacy and credibility to this person. $1m is a sizeable amount of money. In my book by donating to the inauguration of Donald Trump you are supporting Donald Trump.”

Shouldn’t a professor pf public policy be able to distinguish between the two? Paying for campaign funds, and for the inauguration?

Doing education right

Pupils at Bath’s Royal High School beamed with delight as nearly 90 per cent scored A* – B in their GCSE results.


The Royal High School is an independent day and boarding school for girls in the city of Bath, Somerset, England, catering for up to 1,000 pupils.

Bath High School for Girls was founded in 1875 by the Girls’ Public Day School Company (now the Girls’ Day School Trust). It was a direct grant grammar school from 1946 until 1976.

So Britain does know how to do education right then. Just copy that method nationally…..

There’s a merit to this

Close them all down, the rubbish former polys. Or just use them to fleece foreigners. Restrict university admission to the most academically gifted 10% of our students and scrap tuition fees. Expand vocational qualifications, via technical colleges, and apprenticeships. Create an environment in which the kids getting Cs and Ds can see a real, financially rewarding and secure alternative to university.