Friday, December 31, 2010

Layer 412 . . . Weird Scenes, Doors of Perception, Education, Standards, Blake, Huxley, The End of 2010, a Happy New Year and a Brave New World

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine

Can you picture what will be?
So limitless and free . . . ?
Desperately in need of some . . . stranger's hand?
In a . . . desperate land?
Lost in a Roman . . . wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain . . .
There's danger on the edge of town
Ride the King's highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine . . .

The Doors - from "The End"


    "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern."

 - from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


Brave New World's ironic title derives from Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act V, Scene I:

    O wonder!

    How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it!

    "Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion,
    Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.
    From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
    Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing
    from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell."

- William Blake
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


In the town called Education they refer to the examinations known as A levels as the 'Gold Standard'. Everything flows from this. The gold mines and the Factory Schools flow from this.

Entry to university flows from this. The structure of the school system flows from this. The academic curriculum flows from this. The rejection of sensible proposals to broaden the curriculum into something resembling the international baccalaureat  flows from this. The rejection of the idea that children should not have to specialise in either the sciences or the arts, flows from this. The prohibition on pupils following their own learning journeys flows from this. Pupil angst and alienation flow from this. Teacher angst and alienation flow from this.

Is it any wonder that so many teachers leave the profession so soon after qualification?

Is it any wonder that so many children, and so many adults, are borderline insane? And so many of them are . . . literally . . . driven insane. Or become morose, depressed, angry and resentful.

You don't believe me? Take a look are the statistics for teenage drug taking in this country. Also for adult drug taking. Does taking heroin, cocaine, and all the rest, strike anyone as . . . sane? Where does the urge to do those things come from? Where does the failure to control that urge reside? Whose town? Whose government - which cares only about the gold standard? Which tries to shift the blame to individuals. Which sets up the system that is policed by an agency called Ofsted whose mission is to track down and persecute anyone who is deemed to be failing to support the Gold Standard. I use the P word advisedly. Nobody escapes the Ofsted inquisition . . .

If A Levels are the Gold Standard, then what are the tests that are administered at the age of eleven called? Let's call them the Bronze Standard. Or the bog standard. And then it neatly follows that the tests we give to sixteen year olds should be called the Silver Standard. Pupils who achieve success in at least five subjects at grade C and above at the Silver Standard might be considered as being 'on track' to achieve the Gold Standard. You see, it's all one big race.

Who are the drop outs? Why do they drop out? Are they dull and dumb? Have they no stamina? Do they lack motivation? Do they take drugs?

We just. Don't. Know. Although some of us think we do; and some of us don't even care.

How many of our children drop out before the age of eleven - let alone before they reach the Gold Standard? The Town Council would have us believe that the drop-outs have been badly taught. They'll tell you it's all the fault of the teachers. We need to hunt down those failing teachers. We need to sack those failing teachers.

There's danger on the edge of town . . .

The Town Council employed a Director of Education, who we'll called Mr Mutt. The Town Council were unhappy that so many pupils were not on the Gold Standard. Not on the Silver Standard. Not on the Bronze Standard. Not on any damn standard. They were desperate to raise standards.

"It's mainly the fault of the headteachers," said Mr Mutt. "They don't care enough about raising standards. They don't know how to raise standards."

Ironically, Mr Mutt didn't know anything about education. Or children. Particularly Primary age children. But really - not ANY children. Neither did he know anything about pedagogy. Or about how to be a school manager or a school leader. And why should he know? He was simply a bureaucrat. All he needed to know about was Standards and bureaucracies. And how to get rid of people who didn't raise standards. Which is what he did. And still those standards didn't rise.

So Ofsted came along and said this man hasn't been raising standards. He's a failing Director of Education. He doesn't know how to raise standards. Neither does he know how to provide decent services for schools. He can't even ensure that people in his department get paid the right amount, and at the right time. Which is surely something quite basic  to his job description. Why can't he even run a proper payroll system? Let alone a school system . . . No wonder the unions and the headteachers are so angry . . . Why has this Town Council been employing him for the past ten years?

Since the Town Council couldn't answer that question they decided not to employ him any more. So they gave him a year's salary and said would you mind pushing off, you hopeless bureaucrat? (Though they continued to employ a man, the Chief Executive, who was supposed to have been responsible for the performance management of the Director of Education throughout the previous decade. In fact they made him directly responsible for the day to day running of education, following the departure of his ex-best buddy. Even though he was an accountant and knew nothing about education.)

Weird scenes inside the gold mine . . .

The ex-Director of Education re-trained as a Performance Management consultant and began travelling the country, advising school governing bodies on the performance of their headteachers. In his heart of hearts he was a little bit in love with headteachers. In the deepest, darkest recesses of his twisted soul he truly hated  headteachers.

Ride the King's highway . . .  Ride the snake . . .

It all makes sense, in a weird kind of way . . .

Why do so many of the town's teenage girls become pregnant? Why does the town have so many teenage fathers? Have these children not heard of contraception? Do they not have access to contraception? Do they not want to use contraception? In what sense have we educated these children? Or have we, in effect, NOT educated these children? Which bits of them are educated?

What makes them carry knives? What makes them use those knives . . . on one another? What makes them get drunk and throw up on one another? What makes them steal and rob? Don't they know it's wrong to do these things? Don't they have any values? Have they not been educated?

Or shall we just say that they're feral children who are beyond education? Beyond any help? Beyond caring about? Beyond any decent standards . . .

Maybe we could blame the parents. Or television. Or the Internet. Or computers.

Lost. In a wilderness of pain. Desperately in need, of some stranger's hand . . .


A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.

A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.

All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.

An intellectual is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex.

Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.

Cynical realism is the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation.

Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.

Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.

From their experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn.

I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.

I'm afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.

If human beings were shown what they're really like, they'd either kill one another as vermin, or hang themselves.

Most of one's life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.

Orthodoxy is the diehard of the world of thought. It learns not, neither can it forget.

The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.

People intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are.

The worst enemy of life, freedom and the common decencies is total anarchy; their second worst enemy is total efficiency.

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.

Words, words, words! They shut one off from the universe. Three quarters of the time one's never in contact with things, only with the beastly words that stand for them.

Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.

Thank you, Aldous.


Happy New Year!.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment