State Education in England, or English Education in a State

Letter From London

        ut vero aliquis libenter educationis taedium lahoremque suscipiat, non praemiis modo verum etiam exquisitis adhortationibus impetrandum est.

—Pliny (I, 8)

Those who read my "Letter From Banausia" in the June Chronicles will perhaps recall that it described the studied destruction of the tradition of learning in English schools and its replacement by politicized, centrist, authoritarian, line-managed training for employment. It reported how the new "educational" orthodoxy is enforced by subjecting schools to the destructive testing methods of a tyrannical and unchallengeable inspectorate. And it related the virtual collapse of secondary teacher recruitment that has followed these developments, despite the government's attempts to attract applicants by a campaign of sentimentalized cinema and newspaper advertisements. Well, three months later, and—as the venerable Jesuit who taught me English all those years ago would say (daily, in response to the morning's news broadcast on what we then called the "wireless")—"It's getting worse."

In peri-millennial England, it would seem, just as in the Rome of Pliny the Younger, "a good deal of persuasion, not just financial incentives, is needed to get an}one to choose to put up with the boredom and hard work involved in teaching children."...

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