Long term readers will be aware that my schooldays were a trial. I started school a happy wee thing and left only with my schoolgirl humour intact. It would be wrong to say that I hate teachers but I dislike most of the loathsome, child hating, disappointed in life bullies to the point where I will spit in their food every chance I get. I don't meet many as an adult but I meet enough to satisfy my insatiable hunger for revenge. I should also stress that I had a handful of wonderful, gifted teachers during my schooldays, I just wish there had been more like them.
Anyway my blog-friend David Duff has been laying out his manifesto, over at his place and if I'm not mistaken he has something of a passion for good education. He puts forward a number of ideas which I'm not going to debate just now. Instead I thought I'd have a bit of an old rant about the state of education.
I need hardly say that my education was crap. If it hadn't been for my habit of truanting and sitting in public libraries reading books all day I'd be a vegetable by now. I can't help thinking that it said more about my teachers than it did about me when they told me to stop going off and reading books when I should be in school. Most of them were useless creatures with not an ounce of passion or enthusiasm. Racehorses are shot for being less unfit for purpose. Anyway I'm wandering off the point. A number of incidents have been brought to my attention or occurred in my own life which lead me to suspect that Scottish education has managed what I'd never have believed possible in that it has got worse.
It was my misfortune to attend school under Thatcher's reign. I believe there was a dispute of some description and a strike. If only Thatcher had left the miners alone and crushed the teaching profession instead. As history records she didn't and I spent my schooldays being educated by a bunch of surly, work to rule arseholes. Not a single school trip or after school club that might have captured my imagination, by the time it calmed down the teachers seemed to punishing the pupils by taking them on the worst trips possible (My first school trip lasted two weeks. It was hell). So a big thanks to all concerned for wasting time that I'll never get back. As you can see I'm bitter, though I comforted myself with the knowledge that it would be better for the next generation and those that followed.
Ha Ha Ha! Today I handed a number of letters to be typed over to our new office junior who's sixteen years of age. Good Lord! You'd find a higher literacy rate in a barnyard. I can't remember how many chimpanzees one needs to give a typewriter before they come up with the works of Shakespeare but I feel certain it would take a million office juniors to come up with anything resembling a sentence.
One letter in particular struck me. When it came back typed it was written in a very odd form of English. I assumed the computer must have gone mad and sent it back. It was returned to me topped by a fluorescent pink 'post it' which read 'wats da problem' in 'bubble writing'. I have never been so surprised in my life. I gently explained 'da problem' and the junior explained that she couldn't read my handwriting. I was relieved at this news and in fairness my handwriting can get a bit wild. I took the letter and wrote it out in print. No joined up nonsense. I got the next draft back entirely in capital letters. I don't mind telling you that my eyes filled with tears at this point. In the end I typed it myself whilst junior said 'fuck's sake' at a mobile phone. The great news is that she's pregnant.
I was chatting to a fellow from the education department who is close to jacking it all in, so dismayed is he by the state of things. On his latest mission he encountered a girl who'd been suspended for telling her teacher to fuck off. I can't help feeling the girl had a certain amount of right on her side given that she is 13 and unable to sign her name, tell the time on a clock face or articulate herself. I claim no expertise in these matters but the fact that the school thought the biggest problem there was her disrespectful attitude towards a teacher speaks volumes.
Last year's work experience girl was a A* student almost across the board. Nevertheless she had great difficulty with basic spelling and grammar. Of the two people I have met described above I can honestly say that they are bright, funny entertaining young women who I'm confident could turn their hand to anything. Why can't they be given the education they deserve?