CNN Misses the Point: Bristol Palin Promotes Abstinence

I get the newsfeed from CNN on my Google desktop and saw the headline “Bristol Palin: Abstinence for all teens ‘not realistic’ “. This was the way CNN summed up her interview with FOXNews’ Greta Van Susteren. It makes a good headline.

But that was just a tiny bit of the interview. CNN didn’t want to emphasise that the media tried to make it look like Governor Palin forced her into keeping the baby – something Bristol refuted vehemently. The whole point of the interview, which was Bristol’s idea, was to get across the message to not have sex, because the consequences can be life-changing. Here’s more of what she said. The ellipses only edit out Greta’s questions, not Bristol’s statements.

“I think everyone should just wait ten years. . . Just because it’s so much easier if you are married and if you have a house and a career – it’s just so much easier. . . I’m not the first person it’s happened to and I won’t be the last, but I’d love to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy. . .  Kids should just wait. It’s not glamourous at all.”

Bristol did say, “I think abstinence is like… like… the… I don’t know how to put it, like – the main… everyone should be abstinent whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.” So what did she mean by that?

She continued, ” Because it’s more and more accepted now.”

Van Susteren: “Among your classmates and kids your age?”

“Among kids my age”

Van Sustern asks what can be done to change this. “To see stories like this and to see other stories of teen mums. It something… you should just wait ten years…”

So the lack of realism about abstinence is a matter of this “is” rather than the “ought”. Bristol is not saying that abstinence is not a realistic goal, but rather not a realistic view of the way things are now. A way she wants to change for others.

Video of the  full interview is available on the FOXNews website.

What the Government Has Planned for Your Daughter

Next week all the 12-year-old girls at my school will get their vaccinations against the virus that causes many cases of cervical cancer. The injection is given to 12-year-olds because it is only effective if taken before a girl becomes sexually active. It will be too late for some of the girls.

The Government now has another plan for 12-year-olds. Under legislation to be considered in Parliament this week, they will be given pills for do-it-yourself home abortions. As long as their unborn child is less that 19 weeks old, they will get the abortifacients without their parents ever knowing.

They will have to be a little creative, obviously. At 19 weeks, the baby is about 7 inches long and weighs about 2/3 of a pound. That’s a lot to flush down the toilet. It’s probably the sort of thing that will require sneaking some sort of small plastic bag upstairs and then slipping out to the bins. Best to plan the abortion near to collection day, so the decomposing flesh doesn’t alert mum and dad. It would be especially nasty to have a dog get into the bin and drag the corpse around the garden.

Then there’s all the blood and related gloop associated with expelling what Dr Evan Harris, MP always prefers to call the “products of conception”. But I guess mum will just think her darling daughter is having an unusally heavy period.

And this will bring abortion to Northern Ireland, which until now, like the counties to the south, has prohibited it.

Language Barrier

“Sir, can I work with someone else?”

“With whom?”

“Huh?”

“With whom would you like to work?”

“Huh?”

With whom would you like to work?”

“Whaddya mean?”

“What do you mean, ‘Whaddya mean?’ You asked if you could work with someone else.”

“Yeah. Can I?”

“It depends. With whom would you like to work?”

“Huh?”

“What’s the problem? I’m not going to let you work with just anyone.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So with whom would you like to work?”

“Whaddya mean ‘whom’?”

“I mean, with whom would you like to work?”

“What’s ‘whom’? I don’t know that word.”

“Ah, I see. ‘Whom’ is the objective case of ‘who’.” The declension of pronouns is clearly beyond his grasp. The despair of the inevitability of having to end a sentence with a preposition begins to weigh upon me. “Who do you want to work with?”

“Sam.”

“Fine.”

A fourteen-year-old boy, very intelligent for his year group according to standards of the day, looks back at me like I’m some kind of idiot. He mutters sarcastically to whomever will notice as he walks away, “What’s he on about? Whom. Why doesn’t he just speak English?”

Little Ladettes

Two articles in the Daily Mail today reminded me of a conversation in a lesson yesterday, where some pupils were just incredulous that I only drink alcohol occasionally and never with the intention of getting drunk.

The first article, by Sarah Lyall, a correspondent for the New York Times and recent author of an ex-pat view of the British, asks in the headline ‘Why are you Brits such DRUNKS?‘. The answer could be related the title of the second article, “Mum branded a ‘disgrace’ after she buys 13-year-old daughter stash of alcohol to take on school charity walk“.

But the problem is that I talk to 13-year-olds every day, including yesterday, for whom getting drunk is regular behaviour. These are not down-and-out rough-and-tumble council estate kids with no hope. These are middle class kids from tidy homes. They can’t imagine being able to socialise or have fun without alcohol. The kids yesterday attributed my lack of regular drunkness to my wild religious fanaticism, you know, the fact that I believe in God.

But neither yesterday’s children nor my present school stand out particularly. At my last school, 14-year-olds regularly talked about going out and getting drunk. And it was not like they were sneaking out of the house to do it. Their parents preferred to know where they were, even if it was stumbling down the streets throwing up or urinating in alleyways, behaviour that was also well-known by their fellow pupils.

And I have seen it myself. My favourite kebab shop is for obvious reason right in the middle of the drinking establishments in our fair city. Any time from 8:00pm on, teenagers, usually wearing the slightest amount of fabric that could called clothes, and shouting the foulest language, wander up and down the lanes in drunken packs.

The one thing they all of these pupils have in common is that they were girls. It’s not that boys aren’t doing the same thing. Rather it seems to be the new expression of feminism – working very hard to equal, and now it seems outdo, the men. And if they are drinking like this in their early teens, think of what they will be like in a few years.

Vandalising History

From The Times:

Castles, monasteries and stately homes that have survived battles, the Reformation and the elements are falling victim to a more modern adversary — drunken youths.

Vandals have caused hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage at historic buildings around Britain in more than 170 incidents during the past year.

The Pride of Britain

This is a disgusting country. After dealing with really nasty teenagers today, I came home to read this story about an incident in Derby. Rather than relay it to you, I’ll copy the first bit of the story:

A suicidal teenager was taunted until he jumped from the top of a city-centre car park by a crowd of baying shoppers who had gathered in the street below.

In a shocking indictment of modern Britain, youths passing in the shopping street yelled at Shaun Dykes to kill himself over the course of three hours.

At least one bystander allegedly taunted the 17-year-old by shouting: ‘How far can you bounce?’

The A-level student eventually plunged 60ft to his death from the multi-storey car park after police negotiators tried in vain to talk him down.

Then, in a final sickening act, some of those responsible for the abuse outside the Westfield shopping centre in Derby apparently clamoured to take pictures of the teenager’s body from behind the police cordon using their camera phones.

Yesterday, police branded the mob’s behaviour a ‘shocking reflection on society’ as they joined community leaders and concerned onlookers who were at the scene of Saturday’s tragedy in condemning the crowd’s behaviour.

Benefits of Swearing

For students who feel they might be short a few marks on English GCSE exams, they can always add a few obscenties. In fact, the only thing a student needs to do is write some obscenties.

The largest exam board, AQA, gives marks for f**k off, as according to the chief examiner, Peter Buckroyd, “It would be wicked to give it zero, because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for – like conveying some meaning and some spelling. It’s better than someone that doesn’t write anything at all. It shows more skills than somebody who leaves the page blank.”

An AQA spokesperson tried to distance the board from the chief examiner’s remarks. The only thing is that it is the chief examiner who writes the exam and trains the other exam markers. So the AQA office can meaninglessly distance itself all it wants.

The Government has a regulatory body responsible for all the exam qualification, Ofqual. They don’t want to get involved. Their spokesperson said, “We think it’s important that candidates are able to use appropriate language in a variety of situations but it’s for awarding bodies to develop their mark scheme and for their markers to award marks in line with that scheme.” Who creates the mark scheme? The chief examiner, of course.

The student who wrote the exam answer used by Mr Buckroyd to train markers did not get full credit for “f**k off” because he did not include punctuation. “If it had had an exclamation mark it would have got a little bit more because it would have been showing a little bit of skill. We are trying to give higher marks to the students who show more skills.” According to The Times, with an exclamation mark it would be worth 11% of the marks on the GCSE paper.

The Rising Tide of Death

It’s time once again to reveal the latest status of the geno-suicide of abortion in this country. How many of our own did we kill last year? In England and Wales there were 198,500. That does not include those discarded with the Morning After pill.

That really wasn’t the big news though. The overall number goes up every year. This year it was a 2.5% rise.

The biggest rise is in the number of abortions procured by under-14s. This has increased by 21% over the last two years. At the same time, the overall teen pregnancy rate has fallen slightly, so in real terms this is an even higher percentage of babies otherwise protected in the wombs of younger mothers now being snuffed out.

The killing goes on unabated.

Leaving Day

Well, the Year 11s are officially gone. Only officially, because their first exam is tomorrow and it is mine. If my timetable will permit it, I hope to be outside the exam room as they leave to get exit poll reaction before I collect up the question papers for my future use.

At the request of some of them, I brought my guitar into school and played a 30-minute set for a modest crowd of them at lunch outside on the playing fields in the marvellous sunshine.

Another Religiously Motivated Attack

A couple of months ago, I mentioned the incident of a Anglican vicar being attacked on the grounds of his church in Wapping, East London by Muslim youths.

It’s happened again, this time in Bethnal Green. Rev Kevin Scully was attacked on Tuesday afternoon. He’d been taunted with religious abuse before. He took their football last Saturday when they had been hurling it against the church cross. They came back, fueled under age by the alcohol forbidden by the Qur’an and beat him up.

He ended up with two black eyes, cuts and bruises. He told the East London Advertiser, “One of them was instigating the violence. I thought the other two were going to stop it, but in the end they joined in. Even a passer-by who saw what was going on and tried to intervene got a kicking too. I was punched twice in the face, hard, hit again, and kicked from behind. I crouched down to ward off the blows before running to the Rectory and calling police.”

When Kids Get Angry

If you are a teenage girl and upset with a love rival over a boy, what do you do? Do you send nasty notes? Cyber bully? Have a chick fight in the street? No. That’s amateur stuff.

You research how to make a bomb on the internet. Then you blow up her house. Just to make sure you get her, you blow up the two houses next door and kill a neighbour.

In the States, if you want to blow up several houses, you need the Philadephia Police Department. In the UK, you just need an angry girl. And some people wonder why I say Britain is the more violent country.

The intended target of the attack, Charlotte Anderson, is in intensive care with severe burns. She’s stable and she’s conscious. Emad Qureshi had just completed a post-graduate degree. He was sitting at home next door with his parents and a visiting friend. He wasn’t so lucky.

Sixty people living in the street have had to be moved to temporary accommodation and the road has been closed to manage the cleanup. Hopefully some people have been able to return home this evening.

And all because of someone didn’t like a new girl dating a local boy.

The Evil Continues

Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris were sentenced today for the murder of Sophie Lancaster. With their so-called life sentences Herbert got a 16-year tariff and Harris got 18 years.

Ryan and Brendan got much less than what they deserved, but that penalty isn’t available in this country. As I mentioned to one of Ryan’s supporters, who left a comment here today, the judge said, “This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself.”

The sentencing of these thugs should not lull us into thinking that Britain is a safer place. Without even leaving the Northwest of England, the Daily Mail today has the case of Julie Pickford. She was asked a boy to stop throwing popcorn at other passengers on a tram. “Without warning, one girl stood up and punched her in the face and then a mob of up to 30 teenagers joined in, punching her and stamping on her. . . With blood streaming from her injuries and £50 stolen from her handbag, she was thrown off the tram at the next stop in Sale, Greater Manchester.”

Family Values

15-year-old Brendan Harris and 16-year-old Ryan Herbert are killers. They so brutally killed a 20-year-old girl that emergency services could not tell whether she was male or female. Her boyfriend was left for dead, but eventually came out of his coma. Harris and Herbert brutally attacked Robert Maltby and murdered Sophie Lancaster because they looked different. As reported in the Daily Mail:

Someone was heard to shout “let’s bang him” and the Harris started the orgy of violence with a flying kick to [Maltby’s] head.

The gang, described in court as “acting like a pack of wild animals”, then punched, jumped and stamped on his head until he was unconscious.

Miss Lancaster cried for them to stop as she cradled her boyfriend’s head on her lap.

Her plea went unheeded as Herbert delivered a volley kick to her face, with Harris joining in to kick and stamp on her head as she lay on the ground.

When paramedics arrived and found the couple lying side by side covered in blood, they could not tell what sex she was such was the severity of the injuries to her face.

The pattern of some footwear was still on her head. Both fell into comas but Miss Lancaster never regained consciousness and died in hospital 13 days later.

But of all of the information I read about this horrible case, the most disturbing was, “Police also revealed today that both the boys and their parents had laughed and joked throughout the court case.” On camera on the BBC Six O’Clock New the police talked about how both Brendan and his mother laughed when he was being questioned during the investigation.

Is it any surprise that these scum of the earth have no conscience? Scum breeds scum.

I am reminded of something I saw recently in my discovery of the parts of the Bible I’m just now reading:

Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
Nor rejoice in ungodly sons.
If they multiply, do not rejoice over them
If the fear of the Lord is not in them.
Do not trust in their life
Nor pay attention to their multitude;
For one godly child is better than a thousand.
And it is better to die childless than to have ungodly children.
For from one child with wisdom a city will be filled with people,
But a tribe of lawless men will make it desolate.

Sirach 16:1-4

A Real Disgrace

For the glory of a man is from the honor of his father,
And it is a disgrace for children to dishonor their mother.

Wisdom of Sirach 3:11

The truth of this verse was made evident by the elder son of Susan Pope. Mrs Pope was until recently the senior nurse at one of the most prestigious private girls schools in the country, Malvern St James. She was sacked for gross misconduct.

However, as has become increasingly common in this country, she was not sacked for anything she did or didn’t do at work. She was sacked for something that happened at home. The facts are not in dispute. Her ten-year-old son swore at her, and after giving him a warning that he would get a smack on the bottom if he did it again, he called her bluff. She was true to her word and applied the mildest discipline to his buttocks over his trousers.

Now most decent reasonable people would immediately recognise that she made a mistake. The warning was entirely out of order. He already knew that what he was doing was wrong. He had already made a conscious decision to curse his mother. This is unquestionably one-strike-and-you’re-out territory.

So all you need now is another rebellious son and a society in complete disconnect with reality. Mrs Pope has both. Her fifteen-year-old snatched his younger brother from the house and called the police. She was arrested and spent 32 hours in police custody. Not only that, her husband was also arrested and held for 32 hours and he didn’t do anything at all. That didn’t stop police questioning him for four hours. She was only questioned for 90 minutes. (I know, I know: on top of all this you are wondering why they were held for 32 hours to be questioned for so little time. That’s the way police do business in this country.)

Someone at the Crown Prosecution Service wisely decided not to charge Mrs Pope with any offence. But as I’m sure you know, Newton’s Third Law of Bureaucratic Motion requires that for every wise action there is an equally stupid reaction. Worcestershire County Council social services stepped in and put both the ten-year-old potty mouth and his eight-year-old sister on the Child Protection Register. They have been on the Register since this occurred last May. According The Daily Telegraph:

sources within the department indicated the Popes had not yet satisfied them that they had met the welfare criteria laid out when the children were placed on the register. “There are issues that still need to be sorted, it’s not simply about a child being smacked,” the source said.

In case you need a translation from the Bureaucraspeak language, the source said that the Pope children are still in danger because bureaurcrats do not believe the parents have accepted the re-education required of them. The State has decided how its children are to be raised and parents must realised that they are merely agents of the State.

So finally, you would think that a posh private school steeped in tradition would be above such things. Well, no. You would think that they would be aware of the character of their employee, but that’s not the issue. Denis Smith, the school’s bursar made the real issue plain in his letter to Mrs Pope informing her that she had been sacked:

The school’s reputation could be significantly damaged in the event that parents or potential parents were to discover that your children are on the Child Protection Register.

We do not believe that the school needs to accept this very real risk to its reputation, which has arisen directly as a result of your conduct.

That’s a lot of words when just two were required: pride and money. But if he wanted to be verbose, he should have just been honest and written something like: “You innocence is irrelevant. We don’t care if social services are completely off their rocker. It is all about appearances and the wrong appearance could cost us pride and money. We care much more about our pride and our money than we could ever possibly care about you, our devalued employee.”

The only positive outcome from this would be for the school’s reputation to be significantly damaged as a result of their conduct. If the values demonstrated by Malvern St James in sacking Susan Pope exemplify what parents want for their children, when they ship them off to be raised by this boarding school, then they should go ahead. Otherwise, they might pause to consider first whether they want their child to be inculcated with the opposite of the Golden Rule. They might further pause to consider whether the way the school treats its employees will be reflected in the way it treats its pupils. Before making a £25,000 per year gamble with the life of a child, perhaps that’s much more worthy of consideration than whether the school nurse smacked her sons bum when he swore at her.

After all, their child may come home thinking that it is okay to destroy the parents’ career if they don’t like being disciplined. Seems like there’s a lot at stake here. I hope the bursar at Malvern St James finds out they gambled the wrong way.

It Could Be Much Worse

I may complain about the general unruliness with which I deal on a day-to-day basis. In my subject, even dealing with pint-sized atheists hour after hour and their same little arguments (though honestly, most of the time that is a very generous term) can be wearying.

A survey by one of the teaching unions, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, as reported in The Times, notes:

Most teachers said that pupil behaviour had worsened in the last two years and many said that low-level disruption – such as pupils talking, not paying attention and refusing requests to turn off mobile phones – was now the norm in classrooms.

I would say that this is true even where I am. However, there is much to said for teaching in the hinterlands.  Not only have we not had a teacher assault this year, I don’t think there is any pupil in the school who would dare such a thing.

Speaking ahead of the union’s annual conference in Torquay today, Ms Bousted [ATL general secretary] said that one in ten teachers had received physical injuries in the classroom.

Twelve per cent said that they had needed to visit a doctor and eight per cent had taken leave from teaching as a result of pupils’ aggression.

Three per cent of teachers said that they had been involved in incidents involving knives, two thirds had been punched, nearly a half kicked and a third had been threatened.

The Government has a unique approach to dealing with a norm of classes full of unruly children. Schools minister Jim Knight said that classes of up to 70 pupils are perfectly acceptable. All you need are a couple of teaching assistants.

Terrorism in the East End

I may get regular verbal abuse and heckling in my own classroom for being a Christian, but at least I’m not a vicar getting attacked on the grounds of my own church. There is a constant campaign of vandalism against St George-in-the-East in Wapping. The attitude is typified by shouts of “This should not be a church, this should be a mosque.”

In addition to being yet another example of teen yobbish behaviour – an epidemic throughout this country – it is also a low-grade example of Islamic terrorism. Besides being just downright nasty, these pustules of society are using their faith as an excuse for causing harm and destruction. They have also been fed on a diet of ideas (whether a home or at the mosque or both) that they should be able to settle in an area and Islamify it, driving out the Church.

No Teachers’ Day in the UK

I found out from Wikipedia that today is Teachers’ Day in Albania. In fact, many countries have a special day for recognising teachers.

The UK does not have such a day. We are not particularly set aside for respect. Rather, this country see teachers has needing lots of regulation and quality control. Most of use are told what to teach by the government, because we can’t possibly be competent professionals.

We have little power left to maintain discipline. The government has determined that many of the methods that formed useful citizens, including most members of the government, are cruel. In a classroom environment, the thing I am most aware of is avoiding proximity to any pupils. This avoids jail or lawsuits. Not that there is a recourse if they get in our face.

We are suspect, so we need hightened background checks which not only include criminal records but any allegations, hearsay or rumour that a police officer wants to put in it. We will be among the first to be biometrically tagged to the national database.

We also provide a dumping ground for people who want someone else to raise their children. Sadly, despite our best efforts, the acorn usually does not fall far from the tree. At a recent parents night, the parents of a disrepectful Year 8 pupil were instructed to use the appropriate entrance to the school. I watched as the dad (all six feet and more than 250 pounds of him) just bullied his way past a female member of staff and ignored her insistence to use the other entrance. Is it really a surprise that his son tries to treat staff the same way and sneers at them with disrepect or laughs in their face when given instructions in school?

At least those parents came to parents night. The ones who don’t are mostly the ones who need to be there. They can’t even be bothered to find out about their child’s progress or lack thereof – and they especially don’t care about how their child is negatively affecting other children’s progress. I don’t think they would particularly care to observe a Teachers’ Day.

Absence of Conscience

It wish this would happen to a Government minister, rather an a Tory frontbench spokesman. Then something might happen, if it isn’t just completely too late. From the Daily Telegraph:

An MP was stoned by a gang of youths after challenging their behaviour.

Tobias Ellwood spotted the group of 10 teenagers climbing into an elderly woman’s garden and using it as a lavatory.

When he stopped his car and confronted them they responded by hurling missiles at him and delivered a torrent of abuse.

Mr Ellwood, 40, a 6ft 3in ex-soldier, said he was deliberately polite as he asked the youths to leave the garden.

But when he threatened to call the police, four or five of the gang started hurling stones, some of which hit him and his car.

He called the police and officers searched the area but the youths had fled.

The Tory MP, who is shadow minister for tourism, had been driving past a housing estate in his Bournemouth constituency at midnight when he saw the youths getting off a bus.

They were aged between 15 and 17 and had been drinking. The most aggressive person in the group was a girl, he said. “They had no understanding of right and wrong,” he added.

“They couldn’t comprehend why a member of the public should challenge them. It was an eye-opening experience.”

Despite his experience Mr Ellwood said: “I would urge people to confront youths who act in this anti-social way.”

Big Brother is Tracking

Big Brother is at it again. The Government has announced that every 14-year-old will be issued a number for life. This is not like a National Insurance or Social Security number. It will be called a Unique Learner Number (ULN) . It will be used to access the new Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) database. It will have all their personal details, exam results, and school disciplinary record to be accessed by employers, colleges, and anyone else in any Government department or 40 “stakeholder organisations” across the education sector. It will be used by Government agencies to track an individual until they die.

All the information will be on the internet. Each person will get two passwords – one for themselves and one to give an employer. How long will it be before the whole system is hacked and all the details available on the black market to anyone will to pay for it? How quick will it lead to wholesale identity fraud? If the Government’s recent track record for losing massive amounts of critical personal details (like the bank details of nearly half the population last year by putting them into the post) is any indication, it won’t take long.

Nonetheless, the Information Commissioner is said to now be happy with the security arrangements, so it will now go online next September.

This MIAP is separate from the ContactPoint database, which will contain details of all of the children in Britain, including names, addresses, schools, GPs and, where applicable, social workers. I don’t know if social worker details will include the health visitor, which is the nurse/social worker assigned to every child from birth until they start school. They were ready to start putting ContactPoint in operation when the Child Benefit details went missing and a security review was ordered.

No Cost for Lack of Conscience

Paul Sandbach should have known to keep his mouth shut. After all, he saw the 16-year-old girl punch two other men outside of a nightclub. Or maybe he thought he was made of sterner stuff. He wasn’t. So when he called her a drama queen, she knocked him to the ground. He ended up with a blood clot on this his brain and died.

Of course teenagers without consciences are nothing new here.  Even teenage girls can be thoughtless savages. I’ve seen with my own eyes.

What disturbs me – beyond the senseless death of Mr Sandbach – is that not only has this criminal remained unnamed “for legal reasons”, but she received a sentence of 30 months. That means that as long as she keeps her nose clean in kid priso, she’ll be out in a little over a year. The ground will have hardly settled over Mr Sandbach’s grave.

About Time

At half-term, I was less stressed and less relieved to have the break than in years past. When we broke up for Christmas today, I was ready.

The Autumn term is almost always the longest. Sometimes the Summer term is as long, but the Year 11s leave about half-way through and the Year 10s leave temporarily for work experience. Summer term is also bathed in daylight. There is something about the sun having been up for five hours before school starts with another five or six after the final bell sounds. In the first term, the days just get darker and darker, until headlights are on full beam pulling into the car park and back on regardless of how early an escape is made.

It also used to be that the Year 7s were only beginning to find their feet by Christmas and those whose behavioural conformity is going to be challenging in post-pubescent years were beginning to make themselves known. Now bad seeds are clearly identifiable by Year 6 Day in the previous summer and they have begun to infect the others with disrespect and disregard for authority on contact. Every year there are more inherently difficult Year 7s  and the infection spreads quicker.

Christmas is a welcomed break. Western Easter comes early this year, so the Spring term will be more of sprint.

Innumeracy and Reality

British 15-year-olds are now 22nd in the world in math skills. This is officially below the international average. With 190ish countries in the world, I’m not sure how this is below average, but it is. Regardless of where the average is, it represents a sharp decline over the last six years.

This surprises some people. Those people are not in education.

A study just released has shown that pupils in the UK are making no progress in maths between the ages of 11 and 14 (what to Americans would be the middle school years), and if anything are slipping backwards. Because grades must be maintained, the exams are made easier. When the exams can’t be made easy enough, the grade bands are lowered. A couple of years ago, one of the exam boards only required 16% on the Maths GCSE exam for a C grade.

It’s much more important to give the appearance of educational success than to actually achieve it. After all, once the Year 11s have gotten their results, what do schools care? The educational establishment have manipulated the figures to make themselves look good. Good GCSE results bring in more Year 7s who then bring in their allottment of government cash, which keeps school going and teaching jobs safe.

That most pupils leave school functionally innumerate is really not their problem. They don’t have to worry about how former pupils don’t understand the basic maths necessary to manage their lives. Tory MP and London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson has written about how innumeracy is pushing the economy off a cliff. He refers to a friend who provides shared equity mortgages for some of the most disadvantaged people in Britain:

And yet he has been amazed at the deals they are willing to accept from less scrupulous lenders, and the risks they are willing to run with their lives. It’s not that they are stupid, he says. “It’s that they just haven’t been educated to understand the maths. They don’t see what an 11 per cent interest rate can do. They say, ‘Never mind the rate, just give me the mortgage.’ It’s ignorance.”

The consequences of this ignorance can be profound for the individual debtor, and for the rest of the economy.

Nobody worries about consequences anymore, especially not 15-year-olds. After all, they face no substantive consequences for their behaviour in school. They are indoctrinated to face no consequences for their pursuits of pleasure. Why should they face any consequences for their use of money? It is far too removed from their sensibilities to think about how their actions result in consequences for others, including society as a whole.