A Modest Proposal To Fix Our Broken Education System

It is a melancholy object to those who traverse the classrooms of this great country, when they see the schools cluttered with tattered books filled with pupils’ thoughts – sellotaped together by similarly tattered teachers – and witness the grey clouds of curiosity billowing over the young like a bad smog.

I think it is agreed by all parties that the prodigious number of children who pass through our primary schools still having retained a naive and selfish sense of independent thought shames our diligent, collegiate and industrious nation. Indeed, the greatest question of our times is how best to shape these errant imaginations to suit the needs of our thriving economy, and here I humbly present what I feel is the only appropriate resolution.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the students of the Requires Improvement schools, mind you; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of pupils of all ages who are led by educators in effect as little able to support them as does a broken photocopier support a Mock SATS week.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely circumnavigated many a school curriculum, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their aspirations. Are we not the nation of wisdom, knowledge and intellect? One would not think so in amongst the flailing ‘open questions’ being bandied around in P4C sessions, the pestilence of ‘expression’, and amongst the goonish buffoonery of the World Book Day.

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned around sixty eight million, of these I calculate there may be about eight million of schoolish age, who ought to be put to more productive use. I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection, conducive as they are to the pressing needs of our times.

I have been assured by many a consulting sage in the educative sphere that the true purpose of learning is the replicable delivery of memorised facts, and after a lengthy period of careful consideration – during which I swaddled myself fervently in confetti made entirely from insufficiently-ambitious knowledge organisers – I feel brave enough to nobly state, without fear of disapproval, my mild-mannered recommendation.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the four hundred and fifty thousand citizens currently employed bumblingly as teachers, half must commit to retrain as mainstream late afternoon television quiz show hosts or else graciously move aside to enable veteran practitioners of the aforementioned craft (like Anne Robinson) to take the lead, and restore noble ambition to our classrooms.

Our culture, of which we ought all to be most proud and grateful, has long recognised the centrality of knowledge, and this wisdom finds its most potent zenith between 3pm and tea time on a weekday unless the horse racing is on. The purpose of a good education is, as we know, incontrovertibly the systematic intergenerational reproduction of a nation of terrestrial-channel quiz contestants, yet for so long, the mindshackles of convention have prevented us from officially installing individuals such as Bradley Walsh and Barry from Eggheads as the thought leaders of our education system that we unofficially know them to be.

Soon cometh the day when rather than effervescing over Ken Robinson’s lily-livered TED talks, our impressionable young teachers will instead study the rigorous self-discipline of that time Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen faced the million pound question under the watchful eye of Chris Tarrant (who, in a wonderful turn of events, has recently agreed to lead Ofsted after this new dawn, taking on a job share with Keith Lemon).

Trivia being the ultimate lifeblood of our system, to not provide pupils from Year 3 upwards with the memorised lists of ham varieties to get them through a telephone audition for Pointless is nothing short of being quite literally abusive. In pursuit of this laudable goal, a prerequisite to gaining Qualified Teacher Status will be to have taken part in at least one TV quiz show of repute.

With immediate effect, governing bodies should be disbanded to be replaced by ‘Governess Bodies’, in which a team trained specifically by Anne Hegarty from The Chase will hold schools to account for the extent to which pupils retain vital information such as the ingredients of a taramasalata, the chart-topping hits of Dexy’s Midnight Runners and the sporting achievements of Fanny Chmeler.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade into a better professional epoch, quashing the time-wasting practice of pupils ‘asking questions’, and ensuring the long-term future of the careers of former GMTV presenters looking to branch out into the afternoon TV market.

Humbly yours,

Jonny Walker

MA(Hons) QTS (Countdown Episode #5698)


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