I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought If only I’d learned this at school. Why was an issue of such import left for me to discover by curiosity, chance or urgent necessity? Obviously School can’t teach everything and, if it has done its true job properly, it doesn’t need to. But the times I’ve realised and felt a fury at how much and how often I was betrayed by an education system which neglected to give its future adults a foundational grasp at least, of economics and finance, civil, criminal and constitutional law and our democratic and electoral processes. It’s just not acceptable that these matters were offered only as extra subjects and only in some secondary schools or by virtue of individual choice in higher education. That they are still not compulsory staples of our State devised curriculum, as much as are Mathematics, English and the Sciences, shows such a profound oversight, one has to wonder: by how much is it deliberate..?
Citizen Ed has been on the curriculum for a few years and this was long overdue, so it is a tragedy that the subjects within it are still at the discretion of individual educators and that Gove’s hand in the governmental guidelines makes ripe the potential for conveying propagandist and doctrinal thought.
To me, such matters to which we are all subject should be first facilitated as facts and the motivation and principles specific to their forming. Their emotive good or usefulness should not be the basis of teaching but the point and substance of subsequent exploration and debate which encourages, not just independent and critical thought, but also helps develop the emotional intelligence and self-awareness of an individual. Overlap between fact and opinion is dangerous when a being doesn’t know there is a distinction or how and where to discern the difference.
As adults, how much more difficult would it be for politicians and journalists to fool around with our lives if we commonly understood the same facts and felt we had arrived at genuinely informed opinions, however diverse; if we could collectively recognise the gaping holes between ideologies and theories and their implementation? Social and political discourse would then have to rely on honesty and persuasion instead of emotional blackmail and spin. Imagine that!
To that end and because apparently, it’s never too late, I would like for the BBC (an obvious choice, I think) to be the noble public servant to which it so professes and aspires and commission and broadcast, at peak viewing time, a series of educative programmes which cover these very subjects: economics and finance, civil, criminal and constitutional law and our democratic and electoral processes – as they pertain to us both domestically and internationally. So, yes, that also means things European, the UN, the IMF, the WTO, etc, etc, etc. I want them explained to me as though I were about twelve: simple, straightforward, clear and objective – what they are, what they mean, what they’re for, how they work and their very considerable relationships to each other.
Go on, BBC! Patronise me sufficiently so as to smoke out the farce, the irregularities, the hypocrisy and the bare-faced nerve of politicians and their media mouthpieces.