WHOEVER “Indy” is, he or she put up a sterling defence of his/her position on education following my “Seeing red” post. In the absence (so far) of a guest blog feature on this site, this represents a pretty comprehensive and thoughtful riposte to some of the more robust comments on the issue:
Simon – I am not actually making the argument you seem to think I am making. I quite agree that there should be parity of esteem between academic and vocational education. But vocational education is not the same as preparing children to do unskilled manual labour. Vocational courses are as highly skilled as many academic courses, just different types of skills.
I have made two basic points – the first that children who do not receive support and encouragement at home need to receive it at school. That is something teachers must be aware of. Children need to be praised as well as criticised. They need the carrot as well as the stick. That point was made in the article but perhaps overshadowed by the other elements. There is a very real danger that if you tell a child often enough that they are a failure that will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Very few of us have an innate self-confidence. Confidence in your own ability to succeed is something that is learned, just as a conviction of your own unworthiness can be learned.
The second point is that it is a fantasy to imagine that the selective education system which existed 40 or 50 years ago would be effective now. Given the changes in the economy and employment market, that approach would in fact be disastrous.
So, yes, there may be elements of modern teaching methods which people find a little bit absurd but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.