So They Say: Corrective Education?

Corrective Education?
Among the other learned voices raised against the “lack of discipline” within schools is that of Dr. Rhodes Boyson. He is concerned that children are being exposed to


  cells of neo-Trotskyist, new left teachers who wanted to use schools to destroy our way of life. Unless these destroyers and wreckers were watched, every history lesson became a study of some peasant or racial revolt against real or so-called oppression.

(The Times 31st Dec. 74)


We have no doubt that Dr. Boyson considers himself satisfactorily qualified to do some of the “watching”, having, as a Conservative MP, a clear idea of the correct “order, belief and structure” that society should take. His concern has a practical application for capitalism of course. He feels that teachers have lost sight of what schools are for:


  the three R’s, passing on our culture, preparation for outside work, and a development of individual talent.


There is nothing so useful to private property ownership than reasonably literate workers steeped in the idea of capitalism, and who are prepared to run it. If a worker has particular talent which may be exploited, so much the better.


Lesson Two
This theme is echoed by Dr. Joyce Morris, a BBC adviser on language usage. She said at a conference on education in the North of England on 2nd January, that “crazy and dangerous ideas” in education techniques have led to an increase in illiteracy, and urged those attending to restore reading “to the central pivot of the curriculum.” The dangers she sees in increasing illiteracy among secondary school pupils are similar to those of Dr. Boyson:


  As technology advances the need for unskilled labour decreases and the illiterate must face the prospect of almost certain unemployment in the not too distant future.

(The Times 3rd Jan. 75)


Her call has not yet reached the eyes of Lt. Col. Stuart Townsend, headmaster of Prince Charles’s old school, Hall House Junior School. Townsend has his own ideas of education and has recently been explaining his views to the parents of his 500 boys, who pay up to £600 a year in fees:


  Today in London many school children have no manners, are destructive, look dirty, slack and lazy. Some Hill House School boys come to school like this and are a disgrace to the uniform. These boys should be removed.

(News of the World 12th Jan. 75)


The punch-drunk Colonel does not say where they should be removed to, but emphasises that good manners and discipline are of paramount importance, not least among members of his staff.

  There’s a battle going on in education. Someone has to make a stand. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ll win. I just get rid of anyone who doesn’t agree with me.


One thing which does not appear to trouble the Colonel, however, is illiteracy, at least not in his own case. One parent complains:


  He boasted to me that he never answers letters and when I went to meet him I saw a waste paper basket full of unopened letters.


Unread maybe, but surely not unopened? How could the Colonel have extracted all those cheques for £600?


Patent Mistake
A document for patent assigned to the Secretary of State and filed in 1962 has recently been taken off the secret list and is available to anyone visiting the Patent Office. Its title “Improvements in the manufacture of organic phosphorous compounds containing sulphur” reads like an improved formula for manure. It is in fact a detailed document explaining fully the chemical processes employed in the production of VX, one of the deadliest nerve gases ever to be invented.


In liquid form, a pinhead sized drop of VX on the skin is lethal.

(Sunday Times 5th Jan. 75)


It appears that the patent was taken off the “classified” list by accident, and that the Defence Department is confused as to how this particularly nasty skeleton emerged from the cupboard. A spokesman attempting to defend what will doubtless be considered an error of judgement said:


  Information on how to make an atom bomb is freely available, but people don’t go around doing it.


That not everyone “goes around doing it” is quite true. However we are all aware that too many “people” have already done it, and continue to do so. In regard to VX itself, the production details were passed to the us some years ago “under a long standing agreement on the free exchange of chemical warfare information” with the inevitable result that the US


  eventually manufactured it on a large scale and put it into store.


Having learned who our friends are, MPs have been writing to Mr. Rodgers, Minister of State for Defence, not apparently concerned with the reasons for the production of this deadly gas, but appalled that the details of manufacture are now public knowledge. They will doubtless be happy to learn that Mr. Rodgers ordered a review of de-classification procedures on 6th January.


Black Power
Leaders vary in the degrees of subtlety they employ to maintain their positions of power. President Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is one who believes in taking the gloves off, straight away. On January 7th his constitution was approved by a referendum. Among other things this


  confirmed his dictatorial powers for life by threatening to torture or kill anyone who voted against it, refugees said in Madrid. The President had made sure of the outcome of the referendum by making members of his single National Workers’ Party the sole election judges. The balloting slips were printed beforehand, the vast majority of them with the word Yes. Anyone bold enough to pick up a slip from the ‘No’ pile and put it in his voting envelope, risked reprisal.

(The Times 8th Jan. 75)


Opposition spokesmen have so far failed to comment. Or materialize.


In the Clouds
Mr. Michael Burbidge of the sociological branch of the Department of the Environment said on the 6th January that many Local Authorities would be housing families in “unsuitable high-rise blocks for years to come”. The reason appears to be the same as that for climbing Everest — because they are there. Families thus housed will be those who are already suffering greatly from poor housing conditions. Speaking with reference to particularly unsatisfactory high-rise estates, he said:


  The more choosy tenants will move out and only disadvantaged families with no alternatives will be persuaded to take up the resulting vacancies.


He does not mean “perusaded” of course, but forced. However an angel of wisdom has since appeared on the scene in the shape of Prince Phillip. His rôle as president of the UK Council of European Architectural Heritage Year (i.e. 1975) led him to make some informed comment on the plight of the poorly housed.


  The public should complain if they disliked a building. He wanted people to say ‘Look, we don’t like living 16 furlongs up and the ideas of having more open space at the bottom is totally useless to us.’


After such practical advice, we viewed with some suspicion the comments of Lady Dartmouth, chairwoman of the executive committee of the European Heritage Year campaign, who remarked the following day:


  Architects and planners thought the best thing was to raze everything and start again. But now re-cycling was the vogue and the aim of conservation should be to re-cycle buildings.

(The Times 3rd Jan. 75)


A. D’Arcy