« Plant Rights | Main | Take two tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and what do you get? »

A Quite Interesting proposal for education

The QI equation for an enriched IQ - Times Online

Think about that list of great men who barely went to school: Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, William Cobbett, John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell. Our most independent thinkers were more or less self-educated. You will also find that the best schools – for example, Eton and Westminster – have the shortest terms and do the least teaching, a paradox that would suggest we need less formal education all round.

In the QI edition of The Idler, Lloyd and Mitchinson present a five-point manifesto for educational reform.

“There would be no work, for a start,” said Lloyd. “It would all be play. Plato said that education should be a form of amusement. That way you will be much better able to discover the child’s natural bent.”

This approach is in direct contrast, of course, to the largely Gradgrindian approach common to most schools. As Mitchinson points out, it is actually a method of containment: “There’s that great line: you’re taught for the first five years of your life how to walk and talk; and for the next 10, you’re told to shut up and sit down.”

For Mitchinson, schools have turned into wage-slave production farms rather than places of learning....


And not just the great men mentioned above. Reading biographies of several lesser known, but still great, engineers one discovers they left school early and started working in fields that interested them. Their inquiring minds rather than the efforts of school masters led to their innovations.

Nulab appreciates the difference between education, ie learning to think independently and creatively, and training, ie learning a standard set of procedures to undertake a task in a uniform way to produce an identical outcome. Education doesn't produce Labour voters.

The thing I ran into was "Learning is supposed to be fun and if you aren't having fun it is your fault."
Schools have been set up on the concept of making learning fun, however they don't work to well since what is fun for one student is pain for the next, so the overall requirements get watered down. Sooner or later learning is work on some subjects.

Auto dictats are a rare breed. I also imagine that most boarding school students learn self-discipline at an early age so by the time they hit their late teens they can self direct to a larger extent than average.

Tim, I always understood that the base meaning of "educate" was to draw forth. Managed to find this via google and ask :

In ancient Greece, Socrates argued that education was about drawing out what was already within the student. (As many of you know, the word education comes from the Latin e-ducere meaning "to lead out.")

No mention at all of stuffing in.

Gallimaufry above has it right.

Alan Douglas

Post a comment