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Education lesson from UK

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, February 21st, 2009 - 59 comments
Categories: education, uk politics - Tags:

Last year we saw how unpopular National’s “national testing” policy was going to be. Now a major study in the UK is highly critical of what appears to be a similar policy. The Guardian says:

Children’s lives are being impoverished by the government’s insistence that schools focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of creative teaching, the biggest review of the primary school curriculum in 40 years finds today.

Labour has failed to tackle decades of over-prescription in the curriculum and added to it with its own strategies in literacy and numeracy, which take up nearly half the school week, the Cambridge University review of the primary curriculum found.

Children are leaving school lacking knowledge about the arts and humanities having spent too many years “tied to a desk” learning times tables, the head of the review, Robin Alexander, said.

“Our argument is that their education, and to some degree their lives, are impoverished if they have received an education that is so fundamentally deficient,” he said.

The report says schools should be freed of Sats and league tables to allow them to make more decisions about what and how they teach.

The compulsory daily act of worship should be reviewed and a curriculum that values knowledge and understanding as well as basic skills should be brought in, it says.

Independent of the government and funded through charitable donations, the review is based on three years of academic research, 29 research papers and dozens of public meetings around the country. It marks 40 years since the last wholesale review of primary education and presents a blueprint for a curriculum that would give teachers control of 30% of their time to teach what they want.

Teaching unions, headteachers and major educational bodies all backed the plans, setting the government on a collision course with schools if it fails to consider the proposals.

The review finds:

• Children are losing out on a broad, balanced and rich curriculum with art, music, drama, history and geography the biggest casualties.

• The curriculum, and crucially English and maths, have been “politicised”.

• The focus on literacy and numeracy in the run-up to national tests has “squeezed out” other areas of learning.

• The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which sets the curriculum, have been excessively prescriptive, “micro-managing” schools.

The review accuses the government of attempting to control what happens in every classroom in England, leading to an excessive focus on literacy and numeracy in an “overt politicisation” of children’s lives. Despite this too many children still leave primary school having failed to master the 3Rs.

Sats have also narrowed the scope of what is taught in schools, it claims, concluding: “The problem of the curriculum is inseparable from the problem of assessment and testing.”

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the proposals “have depth, credibility and, above all, respond to the realities of the primary classroom”.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Rather than continue to tinker around the edges of primary education we would like the government to heed the proposals and reopen the debate about the purposes of primary education.”

The DCSF said the report would be considered by Sir Jim Rose, who has been commissioned to review the curriculum concentrating on “workable recommendations for change … in order to give teachers more freedom and flexibility”.

“Ed Balls [schools secretary] has made it clear that he wants it to be the most fundamental review of the primary curriculum for a decade,” the DCSF added. “Sir Jim will publish his findings later this year.”

59 comments on “Education lesson from UK”

  1. Ianmac 1

    We should have a nationwide scheme to test the skills of all car drivers. They all should be tested several times a year. This would ensure that the few who have poor skills will be picked up and identified. Drivers would welcome the use of huge amounts of tax-payers funds being thus diverted. Sadly the energy and cost of all the testing would mean remedial work wouldn’t happen. Pity because the bad drivers are already identified/known, and a fraction of the testing money could make a real difference if spent on remedial work. (oops. Sentencing/prisons?)

  2. Herbert. 3

    The problem is simple. Teachers are mostly humanists, socialists and atheists, but they are allowed to teach their ideological religion in our schools. Hey teacher stop brainwashing the majority. Hey teacher leave those kids alone!

  3. Redbaiter 4

    Leaving aside the obvious question, that if children cannot read or write or do maths, how will they ever reach the stage where they can appreciate or enjoy “the arts’, there’s some important background to this. I read the article, and to me it just seemed like the same old bl*eding h*art liberal bull shit, and it seemed as if the people involved were the same old people that had been guiding education for a number of decades now and have reduced it to a politically correct unworkable farce that leaves too many children illiterate and ignorant. (I mean, you just have to read some of the comments here).

    So I did some research, and my initial feelings were quite right. Its pretty factual that academia is infested with leftists. The debate therefore is dominated by the kind of ideas they think are important. Conservative ideas have to elbow their way in. This report is an example of one eyed academic leftism, and also coloured by the fact that its funders are concerned with promotion of “the arts’ and leftist social concerns.

    The report was funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Quote- Key areas for the Foundation’s funding have included the arts, heritage, penal reform, and social justice. Unquote. Social Justice. There’s the first sign that the report will lack political objectivity.

    The report was authored by Professor Robin Alexander, known for his work in education in Denmark and Finland and numerous other social paradises such as China and Cuba. Here’s a bit of dialogue from the Professor that shows clearly where he is coming from politically-

    “It’s adults who, via the media and advertising, daily ram celebrity down children’s throats; it’s adult commercial values which create the junk food which contributes to obesity, and the alcohol ocean which fuels teenage binge drinking; it’s adults who vote into power governments whose policies exacerbate rather than reduce inequality; it’s adults who take nations into wars in which children are among the most prominent and tragic victims; and I guess – though I’ve not seen any analysis along these lines – that the carbon footprint of adults is far greater than that of children,’ he said.

    Mostly buzz words devised to cloud the same old same old leftist distaste for private enterprise, private property, the family unit, adherence to the same old leftist propaganda offensive which always has to include a diatribe against defense forces and “inequality’, and finishing off with a sermon about the left’s greatest idea since the fraud of PAYE taxation, the politically motivated myth of climate change.

    So here we have a bunch of the same old socialists pushing the same old bullshit about education, posing as a politically objective and authoritative body, and basically recommending more of the same kind of leftist shit that has made that component of society (education) a broken and destructive brake on civilisation.

    Professor Robinson should shut the f*ck up. He’s the problem not the solution. This report is politically tainted.

    ——————————

    What ever could be triggering moderation on this post for chrissakes?? C’mon, loosen up a bit teachers.

  4. Ianmac 5

    Redbaiter: What a strange person you are? Isn’t the left/right ideology a bit tired now?
    Redbus: A brilliant presentation from Professor Robinson. Thanks for the tip. The trouble is that should people like redbaiter get to be in charge, the rush away from creativity will be increased. I think that many of our great successful business people are very creative people whose creativity would have been squashed by a diet of exclusive literacy and numeracy (though these things are important!)

  5. Redbaiter 6

    “Redbaiter: What a strange person you are? Isn’t the left/right ideology a bit tired now?”

    Ianmac: Do you always ask irrational questions? If I thought what you propose, I’d hardly be writing what I have,and what cave do you dwell in where you are apparently ignorant of the battle the left have historically waged to gain control of what they call education? I suggest if you desire to participate in meaningful debate, you hone up on your observation and comprehension skills.

    The authors themselves introduce the left/ right paradigm in so many ways, not least when it says- “The curriculum, and crucially English and maths, have been “politicised”

    The report is just another sop to leftist education objectives dressed up in the wordiness of academia.

    BTW, I made an error in my last sentence. Its not Professor Robinson, its Professor Robin Alexander.

    PS With respect, please do not respond to any more of my posts Ianmac, I don’t have the time to deal with such infantile stuff.

  6. Much as it pains me to find agreement with Redbaiter, this point is inarguable:

    …if children cannot read or write or do maths, how will they ever reach the stage where they can appreciate or enjoy “the arts’…

    The ability to read, write and handle basic mathematics is what the rest of the educational world is built on. If the schools aren’t managing those, then yes the curriculum does need looking at – but the problem is hardly like to be resolved by reducing the focus on literacy and numeracy, is it?

    I can agree with them re the crap effects of constant national assessment on the schools’ ability to get on with teaching the pupils, but the stuff about children’s lives being impoverished by a focus on literacy and numeracy at the expensive of creativity, and the need for “a curriculum that values knowledge and understanding” is just hippy bullshit.

  7. Ianmac 8

    The moment that the politicians use law and order, or literacy, or numeracy to score points, the issue becomes muddied. For example poor old Redbaiter seizes on the odious soundbites and furthers the fear. Apart from rubbishing the researchers, there is no-where where he/she addresses the issues.
    Should the drive to expand literacy/numeracy be persued?
    Should such a drive be at the expense of other intelligences?
    Should the needs of the 20% who are failing, (and they have always been there) be used to clobber everyone with an overdose of literacy/numeracy?
    Should the 20% who are said to be failing receive specific help and support?
    Is creativity a valuable asset for businessmen, writers, parking wardens, or angry redbaiters?

  8. Redbaiter 9

    OK Ianmac- that’s Friday detention for not following teacher’s orders. Please in future be sure to ignore my posts, or you just might be in line for six of the best. Talk about pearls before swine.

    Psychotic Milt: “Much as it pains me to find agreement with Redbaiter,”

    Don’t worry, whenever a leftist dickwad like you agrees with me, the pain is mutual.

    “”a curriculum that values knowledge and understanding’ is just hippy bullshit.”

    Oh gawd no- don’t tell me you’re coming over.

  9. Ianmac 10

    Psycho milt: No one is suggesting that literacy/numeracy be not taught in schools. But in Britain and the USA the focus has become huge with the result that such a large amount of time is thus spent, that things like art, dance, sport, PE are cut down or eliminated altogether. Thus the creative side is neglected.
    And does this huge push actually improve matters? Much doubt as the way to measure is suspect. The excellent are still so. The ones who need the most help can be further disenchanted by being at school. Those who we would like to love maths and love reading/writing lose the glow. Unintended consequences.

  10. Redbaiter 11

    BTW Ianmac ( a witty anagram of “maniac” right?) some lines for you.

    Each of the following sentences must be written 500 times-

    “Nowhere” does not have a hyphen.

    “Persued” is not the correct spelling of pursued.

    But don’t worry too much. Bet you thought ‘Police Academy 3’ was great art right?

  11. Ianmac 12

    “a curriculum that values knowledge and understanding’ is just hippy bullshit.’
    Um.
    Then it follows I suppose that a curriculum must not value knowledge and understanding ! Huh?
    Will that apply to Universities?
    How about those who blog or post on blogs? (“Must not value knowledge and understanding.” Mm that sounds like Redbaiter!)

  12. Ianmac 13

    Redbaiter: Still no sign of a point of view. Still no sign of answering the questions. Still nothing but a bit of shallow insulting.
    Do you think creativity is a valuable asset to have?
    I have no idea what “Police Academy” is but must have been important to you.

  13. Then it follows I suppose that a curriculum must not value knowledge and understanding ! Huh?

    Not at all. “…value knowledge and understanding” is simply a statement like “provide excellent customer service, ie it’s a banal statement of the obvious that tells you nothing about what you’re actually there to do. Yes, we do want the curriculum to put a high value on knowledge and understanding. Is there anyone who doesn’t want that? What matters is how you’re going to go about valuing knowledge and understanding: what are you going to teach? And how? Saying you want the curriculum to “value knowledge and understanding” is like giving an employee the performance objective “Do a good job” – it’s certainly an indisputable description of your desired outcome, but it gives them absolutely nothing they can use to set about achieving it.

    Re literacy and numeracy, I know nothing of the UK situation, but in NZ I see hordes of intelligent students arriving at university with extremely poor reading and writing skills. So if the schools are spending too much time on teaching this, I can only conclude they’re really crap at it.

  14. Ianmac 15

    Psycho Milt:
    I think that setting a goal “that values knowledge and understanding” is important and is followed by the means of achieving it. Therefore all your words are true and the intent to further develop the means is happening now.
    You must know that in recent years of “bums on seats” has lead to a large increase of student numbers including those who would not have been seen at University before, thus getting the 2nd level learners rather than just the first class ones.
    (For more than 2000 years older people have complained that the younger generation are not what they were “in my day”. 🙂 )
    You know that 80% of children in NZ are amongst the highest rated in the Western World. It is the bottom 20% who need the literacy/numeracy help. Resources/money.

  15. Herbert. 16

    “You know that 80% of children in NZ are amongst the highest rated in the Western World.”

    Are you talking about child abuse?

  16. Ianmac 17

    Herbert: You know what I meant. Hope you were not being funny about child abuse?
    It is true that most kids in NZ learn to read and to a lesser degree handle maths. It is one of the flaws with teaching to tests (USA Brit) that by one means or another you can lift the results but loose the love of reading for pleasure or for info, and fail to see the function and the beauty of number. (Just read about the depth of prime numbers-fascinating.)
    It is a need to deal with the bottom set of underachievers that worry me. They get lost in the political rhetoric.

  17. Coaster 18

    Herbert/DJ4 always harps on about the abused children. Maybe that’s because they’re the only ones he knows?

    Close to home, maybe?

  18. Herbert. 19

    Ianmac,
    Silly me, Hi fugley didn’t know you were a Coaster? Anyway I’d swear the teachers at the local high school are teaching the kids tagging because everything is tagged, even my cat and pet turtle called Peter Perfect. Go away James Sleep.

  19. Ianmac 20

    Abused children? Didya read the item in Auck Herald about the team who visit schools with a drama/puppet show telling kids that it is not OK for kids to be abused and should be reported. CYPS I think. Been doing this for 5 years. Now however instead of the kids volunteering to “speak out” they often say “but if you speak out about being hit by Mum and Dad they will get sent to prison! That’s what the adults are saying!” -paraphrased.

  20. Herbert. 21

    “Herbert/DJ4 always harps on about the abused children.”

    Coaster ; how did you know this family guy lives on Spooner Street?

  21. Is there a case for increased academic streaming within schools, perhaps with the neotypical cirrcula advocated by progressive academics open to the top 66-75% – which also could be further streamed, and then a reading and writing focused cirricula for the 25-33% of those for who school is difficult.

    I agree in some respects that 99.9% of all individuals should be taught to meet some minimum education standards, so that they can at least survive, if not thrive in the modern world. However, school – at any level – should never be a strict “one-fits-all” model, because different students have different needs, and need to be inspired in different ways.

    Excessive focus on reading, writing at the expense of arts and humanities will erode the fabric of civil society, for example graduates of China’s education system are typified by a lack of creative thinking. Perhaps ironically, to conservatives, creative education often leads to enterpreneuship, the holy grail of the market economy – because enterpreneurs generally are not conservative in nature. Warren Buffet, Dick Hubbard, Bill Gates, Richard Branson are just a few of those that simply a “reading and writing” focused education would have left us without.

  22. Herbert. 23

    “Excessive focus on reading, writing at the expense of arts and humanities will erode the fabric of civil society.”

    What a load of hogwash Peter D.

  23. Hey Redbaiter

    “academia is infested with leftists”

    I would agree with that. It is funny but the left is full of intelligent thoughtful people and the only intelligent on the right wing are those that want to maximise their individual wealth and do not care about the repercussions. There are not many of them thankfully but this is why the right with overwhelming financial superiority finds that battles with the left are equal contests most of the time.

    And there is no such thing as objectivity. There is an overwhelming majority view by academics and this is almost inevitably “left” and is correct. Sorry but suggesting there is a “middle way” not backed by academic analysis that is correct is disingenuous.

    And this debate really irks because it is a classic example of what this Government is about. It is about soundbites and dog whistles and precious little else.

    Just ask yourself, what will they do with the results of this extra testing?

    Nothing.

    They will not employ more teachers to help the advanced students reach their potential or allow those students who are struggling catch up.

    The only result will be that a table of “winner” schools and “loser” schools will emerge and the middle class in some areas will desert their local schools so that they can give their children the “best” education. And the overall quality of education will decline.

    Sorry Redbaiter and Herbert I will try and translate this into comic form so that you can understand …

  24. Ag 25

    Conservative ideas have to elbow their way in.

    No. They have to establish their own universities and think tanks because the evil liberals persecute them.

    The number one reason that conservative ideas don’t get much show at university is that conservative ideas are often stupid and illogical. That’s not to say that stupid and illogical ideas don’t get aired at universities (see below), but that conservative ideas must be pretty awful to get such a feeble look in.

    That said, we don’t educate people in New Zealand, we train them. Postmodernism and other garbage intellectual movements have removed most of what was valuable about the social sciences and humanities, so I don’t blame people for switching off.

    To be honest, the curriculum could be improved by making Latin or some other difficult language a compulsory subject in high school. People don’t really understand the power of their own language until they study another in detail.

  25. GFraser 26

    Well said Mickey.
    It seems to me that the big ticket policies promoted by this government have
    all been discredited by overseas studies.
    Unfortunately soundbites and talkback opinions seem to be the
    norm for formulating government policy.
    To read some of the views on the Heralds & Trade Me’s message
    boards are truly scary, these people are Nationals target audience.

  26. Redbaiter 27

    “The number one reason that conservative ideas don’t get much show at university is that conservative ideas are often stupid and illogical.”

    Just the fact that an ignorant buffoon like you would say such a thing is warning enough of the dangers of leftists controlling education. Name one such “idea”. Let readers see how intelligent and logical you are.

  27. Redbaiter 28

    “To read some of the views on the Heralds & Trade Me’s message
    boards are truly scary,”

    Good. I’m glad you’re scared. You need to be. We’re coming after you control freaks. We’re going to get you out of the media, out of our schools, out of our public institutions, and finally out of our lives. We’re going to get your thieving hands out of our pockets and prevent you from interfering with the minds of our children. Take your suffocating and oppressive religion of Collectivism and shove it where the sun don’t shine. You’ve had it all your way for too long, and the tide is going to turn. Get used to it.

    Public schools are by law secular. This means there should be no indoctrination, subtle or otherwise, in matters of faith such as Christianity, Islam, or more importantly, Socialism. Keep your sick religion away from our children.

  28. the sprout 29

    RB: “Name one such “idea'”

    umm, how about ‘conserving the status quo is the right thing to do because the status quo got to be the status quo because it works’.

  29. Redbaiter

    “Name one such “idea’. Let readers see how intelligent and logical you are.”

    Ok Redbaiter how about these:

    1. Increasing sentences and being tough on crime can get rid of crime.
    2. Getting 5 and 6 year olds to spend huge amounts of time on doing tests will make them more intelligent.
    3. There is no such thing as global warming caused by human activity
    4. Humans are a result of “intelligent design” by a superior being and Darwin was totally wrong.
    5. If we cut out all forms of state benefits then all of the unemployed will get jobs

    There are many more but I thought that you could start with these.

  30. Redbaiter 31

    umm, how about ‘conserving the status quo is the right thing to do because the status quo got to be the status quo because it works’.

    “umm”

    Good God, even allows his drooling gape jawed speech impediments to intrude upon his writing.

    OK dumbfuck. What exactly is the “status quo”. At what point in time does it exist, and what is this point in time that Conservatives seek to freeze? Maybe if you think about the answer, you’ll understand the utter knuckle dragging dross of your query.

    “Ok Redbaiter how about these”

    Go away Mickey. I ban you from reading any Redbaiter posts on the grounds that 12 year olds generally just don’t have enough life experience or education to contribute to politics. As well, your comprehension is far too poorly developed given that you apparently cannot even distinguish the difference between one and five.

    [lprent: The only people who can impose and enforce bans around here are the moderators and me. I’m jealous about the right. Please read about the BOFH and refleact that you are not even a PFY. ]

  31. Sorry Redbaiter in the future I will try to stick to only one idea at a time so that you can catch up. No need to overload you …

  32. Redbaiter 33

    Mickey, go away and watch The Wiggles or something will you. You have delivered assertions based on shallow ignorance, not Conservative ideas. Really, if you’re the the vanguard of debate at the Standard then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave it to you. Have a good day beating yourself up.

    ..and make sure you share your toys with your brothers and sisters..

  33. IrishBill 34

    You two. Settle down.

  34. Ag 35

    Beat me to it Sprout.

    I also like the one where the way to deal with crime is ridiculously draconian sentences and stern lectures to criminals to “just behave!”

    Or the comical and prejudiced attitudes towards homosexuals or women.

    Or privatizing health care and education, which anyone who does economics 101 knows can be discredited by appealing to market failure.

    Religious conservatism doesn’t go down well at university because universities demand more than faith as evidence.

    Redbaiter doesn’t know this, because he never attended a university, and probably never finished high school.

  35. Herbert. 36

    I have Ag and a degree in common sense.This Godless Nation deserves what’s coming!
    Ask people if they believe in God, you will be very surprised on how many kiwi’s say they do.
    Hey school teacher where is your BIBLE? Oh that’ s right Darwin said that the book should be in the Zoo.Poor kids. I have faith there is a better way for our children.

  36. Redbaiter 37

    [lprent: The only people who can impose and enforce bans around here are the moderators and me. I’m jealous about the right. Please read about the BOFH and refleact that you are not even a PFY. ]

    Jeez, get a life. It was an attempt to be facetious. How the hell could I ban anyone??

    Ag, you’re another retard who cannot tell the difference between one and four. Of course I know why you do such things. You’re too frightened to put up one idea and argue solely about that because you know it would make you subject to scrutiny you couldn’t withstand.

  37. RedLogix 38

    The difficulty most people have with science and religion is that they tend to confuse the two. Both are forms of knowledge, but about different aspects of reality.

    Science based knowledge (as practised by Universities) is based on methods that demands evidence as an essential component of the process. As put above, mere faith, or the assertion of faith, is not sufficient in this environment.

    By complete contrast in my view the full, true and essential nature of the Divine is completely beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. And while the individual may well treasure miraculous evidence that is personal to their life and experience, such experiences are generally of little import to others. People believe in a God, not because they can produce or point to concrete evidence of such, but solely because their inner capacity for abstract reasoning can only be satisfied by such an entity. (I’m not arguing for or against a God here, just the basis on why people believe.)

    Another way of looking at this, science is about the provably knowable, religion is about the Unknowable. Moreover the boundary is not fixed; science having steadily whittled it’s way into ignorance for centuries. No longer, for instance, do we attribute thunder and lightening to angry bickerings of a pantheon of gods. But neither does the knowledge that science brings us, necessarily exclude faith. For many, the more we learn about the world via science, the more we see the fingerprints of God over everything. In my view, true religion and true science would ultimately be in harmony with each other.

    The difficulties arise when people think they should be the SAME as each other. The people who most often commit this error are fundamentalists, who insist that religion must be the only source of truth and authority, which forces them into misapplying scripture. All the ancient texts contain narratives that convey symbolic and spiritual truths; while at the same time are a nonsense in literal scientific terms. The world was not for instance, created in 7 literal days about 10,000 years ago.

    Equally it is a mistake to insist that materialistic science is also the only source of knowledge. Such an outlook closes the door on the notions upon which human dignity is based, having little to say about abstract virtues such as justice, compassion, grace, trustworthiness or modesty. Yet it is these very qualities, upon which society is founded, and about which religion has the most to say.

    These fundamentalists of whatever stripe or persuasion… are the enemy of progress and civility. These people exploit the respect others have for both religion or science to create authoritarian hierarchies. Ironically they often even attempt to do this in the name of freedom and liberty…. but that I guess is the topic of another sermon.

  38. Herbert. 39

    I believe the children should be taught both religion and science. That way the children can make up their own minds in adulthood. Surely kids need balance and diversity in the all important nurturing childhood years.At the moment science is supreme in education systems. How do you possibly hope to achieve a passive community with the present tunnel vision approach which sadly exists ? Open your eyes. I cannot understand the intense hatred by academics of the God concept? I smell a big rat and I am NOT a fundamentalist, whatever that means and I don’t want to know thank you.

  39. the sprout 40

    RB: ‘What exactly is the “status quo’.’

    QED my orginal point RB bro.

    But to give your response more attention than it deserves, the staus quo consevatives seek to maintain usually pertains to the preservation of existing power relations and ownership of capital.

    When conservative agendas for anything else are pitched in terms of ‘restoring’ things to the past (“back to basics”, “restoring traditional values”, etc), to justify conservative plans that aren’t actually conservative but actually aimed to change things to further increase thier capital and power, they’re usually based on a selective and romantic construction of the past constructed to advance whatever political interests conservatives favour at the time.

    But of course you’re right RB, unless it relates to power and capital, conservatives are usually aiming to conserve whichever convenient fiction suits them. Not a habit that’s usually conducive to a sophisticated or particularly rigorous political ontology.

  40. Redbaiter 41

    Yes I am right. Are they for “restoring”, or are they for the “status quo”. Can’t be both. So that’s one proposed “stupid and illogical Conservative idea” dealt with.

  41. RedLogix 42

    That way the children can make up their own minds in adulthood.

    Or perhaps more usefully you could say that they could draw upon both in order to form a worldview in adulthood. Suggesting that there is some kind of binary choice between the two is a false dichotomy, and those religious fundamentalists or materialists who do, are both wrong.

    I cannot understand the intense hatred by academics of the God concept?

    In part I agree with you, but the answer is likely a little more complex than you have implied. Academics are not all of one mind about the ‘God concept’ at all.

    Some of course are out and out materialists, and I personally no more accept that position than you. Equally there are many, many academics who do hold an belief in the Divine, whether they express that openly or not.

    But several things should be bourne in mind here. For one, as I explained above, the assertion of faith alone is NOT an appropriate tool in the environment in which they work. You may well be perfectly free to believe in God, just do it in your own time.

    More importantly academia as a whole has been engaged in a defensive battle against religious fundamentalists for thousands of years; Gallileo being only the most well known example. It is only understandable that when confronted with someone talking about God, many academics’ first instinct is to assume they are dealing with one of the enemy until proven otherwise.

  42. Herbert. 43

    Redlogix
    Are you saying, that schools that don’t fit philosophically with the lefty introduced integrated school system must teach lala-land God science?

    How many ex Labour Prime Ministers believed in God mickysausage?

  43. RedLogix 44

    Not at all. Try looking at the Rudolph Steiner inspired schools for instance. They definitely teach a sound evidence based science, but from a unique perspective that still allows plenty of space for a belief in God. The Catholic Independent schools manage a similar balance, albeit more conventionally.

    At the same time I have little respect for those small Christian schools (I used to live right next door to one and as each year passed I was increasingly disenchanted with what I saw) that teach a narrow Bible based creationism and a world-view wholly derived from literal interpretations of the Bible.

    lefty introduced integrated school system

    Are you sure you are not a fundamentalist?

  44. Herbert. 45

    Norm Kirk introduced it redlogix, that is a fundamental fact.The “special character” of my old Catholic School is well gone.No wonder society is such a dangerous place as many children don’t get taught respect at school. As Charles Darwit said, it’s only the survival of the fittest. But teacher, kids cannot swim and we live on an Island? Oh well who cares eh?

  45. RedLogix 46

    Now that’s an interesting assertion. What do you mean by it?

    I distinctly recall going to a state primary school well before Norman Kirk, so I have to assume you mean something more nuanced than the length of your statement above could support.

  46. Herbert. 47

    Did teachers teach you boundaries at school redlogix?

  47. RedLogix 48

    The “special character’ of my old Catholic School is well gone.

    While the state schools in my area have quite active religious programmes of one sort or another. Sure none of them are mandatory, but it’s wrong to think that they get no exposure to religion whatsoever.

    The problem of course is that as soon as you make any form of religious material mandatory at state schools, you immediately raise the question of ‘which religion’ and ‘what material’. Modern New Zealand has an exceedingly diverse range of active religions, and within each one a whole range of churches or schisms promoting specific dogma, from the openly symbolic and liberal, to the most closed and literal.

    No state school could impose any meaningful religious programme that would even remotely achieve universal support.

  48. Herbert. 49

    But redlogix, we are a Christian Country or has the left distorted history again? You know the Hebrew word for covenant is formed , providing the basis for the word British. Got ya lad. In a nut shell, basically the left are liars.

  49. RedLogix 50

    Did teachers teach you boundaries at school redlogix?

    Not really. All teachers ever did in those days was thrash or humiliate kids who made problems for them. Respect I learnt at home, from Scouting, tramping trips, from other adults who took the time to show boys how to be men.

    But teacher, kids cannot swim and we live on an Island?

    Still you have to remember that Darwinian evolution, for all it’s moral and scientific limitations has been an exceedingly successful idea because it was so much more useful than that which preceded it… ie dogmatic superstition.

    And of course people care. Even to this day the debate still rages within academia as to how or when science will move to a new paradigm beyond Darwin.

  50. RedLogix 51

    we are a Christian Country or has the left distorted history again?

    Not at all. New Zealand, most certainly has a Christian colonial heritage, but the Dept of Statistics authoratitively informs that most of us are no longer practising members of Christian Churches.

    Besides you may want to recall that New Zealand has many hundreds of years of a non-Christian heritage that very much predates the colonial era.

  51. Herbert. 52

    Must go redlogix. Unfortunately a very intense debate about similar matters is happening at the Richard Dawkins blog.I drive that man even madder than he already is.
    Must go, tally ho old chap.

  52. Ag 53

    Of course I know why you do such things. You’re too frightened to put up one idea and argue solely about that because you know it would make you subject to scrutiny you couldn’t withstand.

    I’ve already given you serial hidings in the past. You were an easybeat then, and by all evidence you haven’t changed a bit.

    All you have is bluster and invective, because you really know nothing of what you speak.

  53. Herbert

    Are you redbaiter? You seem to be answering questions posed to him and also using the same sort of phrases that he uses.

    “How many ex Labour Prime Ministers believed in God mickysausage?”

    At least some of them. Savage, Fraser and Lange spring to mind. There is something about the christian belief in help for the poor and the socialist desire to help the most needy that means both sets of values are very similar. It is not a requirement however. And they never let a doctrinal belief in the old testament get in the way of trying to improve circumstances for ordinary people.

  54. ropata 55

    Redlogix, great comments about spirituality, science, and education. A sane and reasonable perspective! Education cannot help but impart a set of values, the question is whose? A “social justice” perspective is FAR preferable to the “law of the jungle” capitalist indoctrination that lurks behind the right-wing rhetoric. A relevant quote from Derrick Jensen, “Endgame”:

    “A high school student bags the groceries. She’s been through the mill. Twelve years of it, not counting her home life, twelve years of sitting in rows wishing she were somewhere else, wishing she were free, wishing it was later in the day, later in the year, later in her life when at long last her time—her life—would be her own. Moment after moment she wishes this. She wishes it day after day, year after year, until—and this was the point all along—she ceases anymore to wish at all (except to wish her body looked like those in the magazines, and to wish she had more money to buy things she hopes will for at least that one sparkling moment of purchase take away the ache she never lets herself feel), until she has become subservient, docile, domestic. Until her will—what’s that?— has been broken. Until rebellion against the system comes to consist of yet more purchasing—don’t you love those ads conflating alcohol consumption (purchased, of course, from major corporations) and rebelliousness?—or of nothing at all, until rebellion, like will, simply ceases to exist. Until the last vestiges of the wildness and freedom that are her birthright—as they are the birthright of every animal, plant, rock, river, piece of ground, breath of wind—have been worn or torn away.’

    (micky, I suspect Herbert is one “dad4justice”, a bizarre character who aspires to be Redbaiter)

  55. Herbert. 56

    “(micky, I suspect Herbert is one “dad4justice’, a bizarre character who aspires to be Redbaiter)”

    ropata – do you know dad4justice or is the insinuation that he is the “bizarre character” just your wayward opinion? I will let him know about your strange comment about him.
    What an odd thing to say about somebody. Obviously you are a week end Christian.

  56. Murray 57

    I don’t know about Jesus, but personally I fucking wept reading this garbage.

  57. ropata 58

    i stand by my previous comment re: d4j.

    ps: cheer up Murray

  58. Ben R 59

    Interesting comments Redbaiter,

    Charles Murray had an interesting series of articles a while back in WSJ about a lack of reality with the No Child Left Behind Act:

    “Our ability to improve the academic accomplishment of students in the lower half of the distribution of intelligence is severely limited. It is a matter of ceilings. Suppose a girl in the 99th percentile of intelligence, corresponding to an IQ of 135, is getting a C in English. She is underachieving, and someone who sets out to raise her performance might be able to get a spectacular result. Now suppose the boy sitting behind her is getting a D, but his IQ is a bit below 100, at the 49th percentile.

    We can hope to raise his grade. But teaching him more vocabulary words or drilling him on the parts of speech will not open up new vistas for him. It is not within his power to learn to follow an exposition written beyond a limited level of complexity, any more than it is within my power to follow a proof in the American Journal of Mathematics. In both cases, the problem is not that we have not been taught enough, but that we are not smart enough.

    Now take the girl sitting across the aisle who is getting an F. She is at the 20th percentile of intelligence, which means she has an IQ of 88. If the grading is honest, it may not be possible to do more than give her an E for effort. Even if she is taught to read every bit as well as her intelligence permits, she still will be able to comprehend only simple written material. It is a good thing that she becomes functionally literate, and it will have an effect on the range of jobs she can hold. But still she will be confined to jobs that require minimal reading skills. She is just not smart enough to do more than that.

    How about raising intelligence? It would be nice if we knew how, but we do not. It has been shown that some intensive interventions temporarily raise IQ scores by amounts ranging up to seven or eight points. Investigated psychometrically, these increases are a mix of test effects and increases in the underlying general factor of intellectual ability–“g.” In any case, the increases fade to insignificance within a few years after the intervention….

    There is no reason to believe that raising intelligence significantly and permanently is a current policy option, no matter how much money we are willing to spend. Nor can we look for much help from the Flynn Effect, the rise in IQ scores that has been observed internationally for several decades. Only a portion of that rise represents an increase in g, and recent studies indicate that the rise has stopped in advanced nations.

    Some say that the public schools are so awful that there is huge room for improvement in academic performance just by improving education. There are two problems with that position. The first is that the numbers used to indict the public schools are missing a crucial component. For example, in the 2005 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 36% of all fourth-graders were below the NAEP’s “basic achievement” score in reading. It sounds like a terrible record. But we know from the mathematics of the normal distribution that 36% of fourth-graders also have IQs lower than 95.

    What IQ is necessary to give a child a reasonable chance to meet the NAEP’s basic achievement score? Remarkably, it appears that no one has tried to answer that question. We only know for sure that if the bar for basic achievement is meaningfully defined, some substantial proportion of students will be unable to meet it no matter how well they are taught. As it happens, the NAEP’s definition of basic achievement is said to be on the tough side. That substantial proportion of fourth-graders who cannot reasonably be expected to meet it could well be close to 36%.

    The second problem with the argument that education can be vastly improved is the false assumption that educators already know how to educate everyone and that they just need to try harder–the assumption that prompted No Child Left Behind. We have never known how to educate everyone. The widely held image of a golden age of American education when teachers brooked no nonsense and all the children learned their three Rs is a myth. If we confine the discussion to children in the lower half of the intelligence distribution (education of the gifted is another story), the overall trend of the 20th century was one of slow, hard-won improvement.”

    http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.25452/pub_detail.asp

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