Saturday, October 28, 2006

The New Underclass: Poor Whites

There's an eye-opening article in this week's Economist which says that we are developing a "forgotten underclass". The article says that while Muslims and blacks get more attention, poor whites are in a worse state. Here's an excerpt...

Apart from election campaigns, when rising support for far-right political parties in areas such as Dagenham causes alarm, the traditional working class is largely overlooked. When politicians say that some communities are failing to integrate with mainstream society, they mean Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. When campaigners complain that schools are failing some children, they often cite black boys. Yet the nation's most troubled group, in both absolute and relative terms, is poor, white and British-born. The troubles begin at school. Last year white teenagers entitled to free school meals—the poorest tenth—did worse in crucial GCSE examinations than equally poor members of any other ethnic or racial group (see chart). In the borough of Barking and Dagenham, the contrast is sharper still. Just 32% of all white children there got five “good” GCSEs last year, compared with 39% of blacks and 52% of Asians. In Leicester, just 24% of whites got five decent GCSEs.

By tracking tens of thousands of poor children, academics at Bristol University have pinpointed the problem. When poor whites are tested at the age of seven, they fare only slightly worse than poor blacks, and better than poor Pakistani and Bangladeshi children, many of whom are struggling with English. By 14, whites have overhauled blacks and continue to lead the other two groups. But at 16, when futures are decided in the national exams, the white children do worst of all. Poor Indian and Chinese pupils, who have been ahead all along, increase their lead dramatically.

Clearly something happens to white children between the ages of 14 and 16 that does not happen to others. That something is that they write off the value of education in doing well in life. At the same point in their lives, or even earlier, their parents and grandparents came to the same conclusion. John Simkin, who went to school in Dagenham in the 1950s, says the ready availability of factory work made for uninterested and rowdy classrooms. “We didn't believe there was any connection between our school work and what we would do as adults,” he says.

White youngsters who think they can leave school with few or no qualifications and walk into a job are not wholly deluded. Richard Berthoud, who studies the subject at Essex University, points out that whites at all levels of education (including the unskilled) are slightly less likely to be unemployed than are others. But poorly qualified whites face two problems. First, education trumps ethnicity. It takes only a dash of additional qualifications to enhance the job prospects and pay of a black or Asian person. And the competition is hungrier for qualifications: whites are less likely to stay at school beyond the age of 16 than any other group.

One reason poor British whites have escaped scrutiny is that they are less associated with serious criminality than other ethnic groups, particularly Afro-Caribbeans. British blacks are disproportionately young and tend to live in big cities, which are heavily policed. They may be more likely to commit the sort of extravagantly violent crimes that attract stiff sentences. It is this reason, rather than any racial bias in the criminal-justice system, that explains why they are over-represented in prison compared with whites.

But whites actually commit more crime. A large survey carried out by the Home Office in 2003 found that white men were more likely to admit to having broken the law in the past year than were blacks, Asians or people of mixed race. Fully 18% of whites aged 10 to 25 admitted to a violent crime, and 15% said they had committed a theft. Young whites are also most likely to take Class-A drugs (the most serious kind).


This article highlights why the BNP are doing well in areas like Dagenham. It's not because the people there are inherantly racist, it's more to do with the fact that they can capitalise on a feeling of social exclusion by the poorer elements of the white community. This is happening all over the country now, and yet none of the three main parties seem willing to accept what is happening under their very noses. Social Justice has to mean bringing opportunity and hope to ALL parts of the community, not just those which appear to be politically correct. The question is, is it too late? Are people in the poorer white communities so disconnected from the political process that they are out of reach of mainstream politicians? This is why it's so important that the Conservatives get back into the Cities for the long term. There aren't going to be any short term electoral benefits from doing so, but that can't be the only factor in a political strategy. It is up to government to find ways of reaching out to the 14-16 year old white kids referred to in the article, who seem to lose their connection with society around that age. While Cameron's 'hug a hoodie' approach was derided by many, perhaps he had cottoned on to (wittingly or not) the fact that it is this group of kids who are the ones in real need of attention.

PS I would love to provide a link to the whole article (which is HERE) but I think you need an Economist subscription to read it.

47 comments:

Big Ted said...

While the Government is cutting back grants for adult education and spends billions on Universities up and down the country - we are forgetting that millions of people without qualifications are stuck in the minimum wage/benefits/tax credit trap.

I would like to see a national network of trade schools where the next generation of electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, builders etc can be trained. (Its better to train our own people than import them from Poland!)

I would like to see vocational trade courses and proper apprenticeships for kids as young as 13 - kids that would normally give up on learning and become another failed statistic.

The courses could also run for adults who are unemployed or unqualified - tradesman who want to improve their vocational training - perhaps even some ex offenders so they can get a proper high paid job - rather than a life on social security benefits or crime?

The Government may crow about tax credits or the minimum wage but this keeps people in the low wage benefit trap - far better to give them real life changing skills where they can earn life changing money.

It needs someone with the time and energy to campaign to make this a reality. We are about to have 250,000 houses built in the South East - are they all going to be built with imported East European labour?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article, and spot on, as I can vouch from my career working with families in the health field.
What the Tories could do above all else in their education strategy, is bring back the apprentice ship system as soon as we get back into power, unless we can persuade Nulab to bring it back ASAP, but am not holding my breath. Nulab much prefers to talk about the theory of education, after having wrecked it in the 60s. Tories prefer to get on and make a difference.

Lady Finchley said...

Big Ted, you make a lot of sense with your suggestions.

The real problem is how do you change the poverty of expectations that exist in the former working class? In the States it is understood that you strive to move up the ladder - this is encouraged and applauded. Here, you are considered jumped up if you do.

Charles Murray wrote about the underclass some years back and what he wrote was considered outrageous - it was obviosul before its time.

How do you encourage an entire segment of the population that having children at 15 is undesirable? How do you introduce an entire segment of the population to another life besides binge drinking at weekends? No wonder so many binge drink if they work all day in low paid, dead end jobs or none at all.

I am afraid that the vestiges of the old British class system contribute to this in the sense that the former working class have few expectations for themselves and their children. There are few manufacturing jobs and fewer mines and they are lost. It wouldn't occur to many of them that they could do and have more. Many teachers dismiss them as factory fodder and the people themselves see all the help go to immigrants or Muslims (as they see it).

How do we effect what amounts to a huge cultural shift?

The Druid said...

Interesting report. The white urban population was regarded once as the salt of the earth. Now they are the scum of the earth. Some people I know are happy to 'write them off as damaged goods.' Trisha trash. The poor have always been with us etc. Not only is that callous it is very short sighted. The rookeries which have developed over the last twenty years are breeding grounds for extremism. We will reap a whirlwind if we don't fix it.

Education is the ladder out of poverty. It also the key to our future national prosperity. But education in this country is dire. Comprehensive education has been generally a comprehensive failure. Even the PM calls them 'bog standard'.

We know what works. Grammar AND proper technical schools. Grammar schools worked, and still do in Northern Ireland/Kent. But as Big Ted says there is a dire shortage of skilled workers. Its not just plumbers we need but also IT people and so on.

I know people have hang ups about the 11 plus. But surely its not impossible to invent a fair selection system for both types schools that avoids the horrors of the 11 plus? It should also be possible to transfer between types of school.

Also we should make it a requirement that anyone thinking of leaving full time education before 18 has passed English and Maths at GCSE. If they haven't they can stay at school until 18 learning the three Rs.

ContraTory said...

Alice Miles of The Times wrote an article concerning a related point earlier in the week. Her article, and that in the Economist, should be required reading for those who always rabbit on about providing "equal opportunities" for all.

Peter Hitchens said...

The fact is that mass immigration is being employed all around the world as a form of social engineering by a collection of people who would like to see the end to the nation state and individual liberty.
To object to that is to leave yourself open to being accused of being a racist, again all part of the plan. The world is being turned into a prison planet before our very eyes and most of us just sit about like cattle chewing the cud waiting to be slaughtered.
Bush has just quitely signed up to laws that lay the foundations for a huge EU style state that takes in canada, mexico the USA then of course all the others , nobody was consulted about this.
The only hope for this country is mass humane repatriation and the destruction of EU

tom_r said...

You only have to look at the newspaper headlines to see how much coverage immigrants and asylum seekers get versus 'poor whites'. I think it's fair to say that being caucasian and British pretty much guarantees that the government will put you at the bottom of the priority list. It's disgraceful. Taxpayers' money should be spent making sure that every British child, regardless of ethnic origin, has access to the educational and employment opportunities - we cannot afford to leave people behind.

Neil Craig said...

" But poorly qualified whites face two problems. First, education trumps ethnicity. It takes only a dash of additional qualifications to enhance the job prospects and pay of a black or Asian person. And the competition is hungrier for qualifications"

Or to put it another way when the few unqualified jobs are available they will go to whites rather than coloureds who thus really need to work for qualifications.

Nonetheless, all nations are facing the problem of the disappearance of unskilled jobs & the fact that the free market means that the difference between the earnings of the rich & poor is getting ever wider.

I believe in free enterprise in most ways but think the tax system should work towards equalising income, probably most efficiently by cutting taxes at the low end.

Anybody who thinks that a society can hang together with the increasing separation between rich 7 poor should study the history of the Roman republic.

bebopper said...

Michael Collins covers this subject in his book THE LIKES OF US A Biography of The White Working Class (Granta Books). So does George Walden with TIME TO EMIGRATE (Gibson Square),which paints a depressing picture of the effects of mass immigration on our poorer areas. (You can read the first part of its serialisation in today's Daily Mail.)

Maybe the white underclass would always have been with us, but it has been coarsened and criminalised in its struggle to co-exist with its new neighbours. Apart from gang wars, the strain on housing and other services, consider the effect of immigration on the education of working class children, and it is just working class children we're talking about, for successful middle class schools are always full. The latest influx (of Poles) brought thousands of non-English speaking children to schools in the poorest areas of our cities. Just one of these in a class is bad news for the teacher and the children.

Unfortunately, politicians, journalists and broadcasters don't live on council estates and can afford to be sanguine about the problem.

Vienna Woods said...

I agree, an excellent report! Many of us have been drawing attention to the situation for years, to no avail. The basic problem has two distinct causes. The first is globalisation and with it the decimation of our manufacturing industry. The people who used to be employed on assembly lines earning a fairly decent wage have been sidewiped by their own Labour party in favour of the New Economy hailed by our Dear Leader as the answer to Britains ills. Of course, the New Economy centers on a square mile in the centre of London and does bugger all for the rest of us. Just how many people are educationally equiped to work in insurance,investment and other financial services, or develop software. According to Blair the Service industry is the Milchkuh of today and the future, but how many people can be employed in shops, loading shelves in supermarkets and cleaning offices. The plain fact is that the permanent job doesn't exist any more and most of the worker bees are trying to hold down two jobs just to exist. No bloody wonder that kids go wild as no parents are at home, and what do they see as a viable future?

The second problem is that immigration has taken the place of training and we are importing skills instead of creating them. It is too late now to stop globalisation in its tracks but we have to do something, and quick! A good economy is a balanced economy and I warned visiting economists here 10 years ago that their theories were seriously flawed if they believed the UK could survive solely on a service based economy. When the housing sector becomes unstuck, then the whole lot will collapse like a deck of cards. You can't bolster production to balance the efect if you don't produce anything.

Cinnamon said...

White people lack the cuteness/victim appeal and there is a special racial insult for the white underclass: 'chavs', which is used with abandon by people who wouldn't dream of using the 'N' or 'P' word for brown people.

The BNP is an odious lot, BUT they are spot on with many things they say, and just because they are the BNP does not make the problems they are highlighting 'wrong', 'undiscussable' or 'non-existent'.

The main parties are ignoring those problems, perhaps because they don't want to be seen to agreeing with the BNP and thus are almost turning into election helpers for the BNP.

Indeed the main parties keep stealing each others' policies which are of no practical interest to most people, but the no-brainer stuff that is the talk around the pub table is pointedly ignored and left as tid-bits for the BNP to snap up. *groan*

Anonymous said...

At last, excellent- The 'Labour Party' has gone right off representing the White Working class, in favour of the more 'exotic' minorities, Blair would rather spend time with Mrs B dressed up in Indian garb, than attending to a lost generation of the white working class. Remember the £80 on the spot fines for drunken behaviour, what planet did that policy come from. Under the Butler 1944 Education act, at 11 plus, I was designated in the sixties to go to a technical college. Because the Headmaster was desperate not to be in charge of a Technical college, he lobbied and succeeded in changing the designation to a Grammar school. I ended up learning French and German (which I have regrets about) in a metalworkshop full of unused rusting equipment. The same policy of 50% of school leavers should go on to get a degree, is patent nonsense. Prestigious Technical colleges partner funded by the State/Unions ( I know this is heresy)/ multi nationals like Rolls Royce or BAE, should be founded to give employment hope for those that do not want a BA(Hons) in Multicultural Media Hair dressing. Edicational snobbery has been a curse on our national industrial life.

Anonymous said...

At last, excellent- The 'Labour Party' has gone right off representing the White Working class, in favour of the more 'exotic' minorities, Blair would rather spend time with Mrs B dressed up in Indian garb, than attending to a lost generation of the white working class. Remember the £80 on the spot fines for drunken behaviour, what planet did that policy come from. Under the Butler 1944 Education act, at 11 plus, I was designated in the sixties to go to a technical college. Because the Headmaster was desperate not to be in charge of a Technical college, he lobbied and succeeded in changing the designation to a Grammar school. I ended up learning French and German (which I have regrets about) in a metalworkshop full of unused rusting equipment. The same policy of 50% of school leavers should go on to get a degree, is patent nonsense. Prestigious Technical colleges partner funded by the State/Unions ( I know this is heresy)/ multi nationals like Rolls Royce or BAE, should be founded to give employment hope for those that do not want a BA(Hons) in Multicultural Media Hair dressing. Edicational snobbery has been a curse on our national industrial life.

Dr. Strabismus said...

Lady Finchley

It's been done before. The situation in the sink estates and districts parallels that of Victorian slums - not, obviously, in material poverty but in poverty of aspiration.

What changed the picture wasn't just economic growth but a real desire by people to help other people to live better lives. The Victorian social reformers had it and so did the trades unions and co-operatives of the day. Education was seen as the way to a better life by the newly-wealthy AND the poor. Many of the Anglo-Catholic priests of the time were educated men from wealthy families who chose to work in poor parishes, and they saw an important part of their ministry was the teaching of basic skills: how to live on a budget, bring up children, and so on.

What depresses me is that I don't see that same fire in any one today. Partly it's because poor whites are not a fashionable cause; and partly because what they need - the urge to better themselves and be self-reliant - isn't part of the liberal consensus in today's UK. I think that largely died out with my generation, who grew up in the Sixties.

It is still there in the US, but that doesn't help us on this side of the pond that much!

Lady Finchley said...

You make some excellent points, good doctor. And you are right, it is a cultural thing and not anything the state can (or should) do anything about. In fact, the nanny state has exacerbated this strange ennui.

Perhaps if the middle class wasn't so derided and penalised then it would be something to aspire to. As it is, we are seen as a bunch of mugs - working and striving, only to have it snatched from us by Gordon Brown!

Praguetory said...

It is good to draw attention to this but I have to question some of your assumptions.

1. The question is, is it too late (to engage with white working class)?

Answer - no

2. Are people in the poorer white communities so disconnected from the political process that they are out of reach of mainstream politicians?

Answer - no, but the mainstream politicians have to engage with them properly.

3. This is why it's so important that the Conservatives get back into the Cities for the long term. There aren't going to be any short term electoral benefits from doing so, but that can't be the only factor in a political strategy.

Answer - There can be short term political benefits. You should take a walk around some of the white working class communities in Birmingham that are returning Tory councillors and you will realise that virtually nowhere should be out of our reach. We're doing this by having councillors who walk and talk like the electorate and care passionately for all of their electorate. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Parliamentary seats we hold, there are virtually no standing Tory MPs who can connect in the same way - and (for all the talk of diversity) I haven't seen many on the A list who are any different. This doesn't mean that the "factory fodder" voters aren't paying attention (the hug a hoodie moment was universally despised in this class) or that Tory values can't succeed, they just want some Tory street-fighter politicians who will tell it like it is and do something for people like them.

PS - I can't imagine Alice Miles having anything useful to say on this theme.

Anonymous said...

A return to selective education a.s.a.p.is required. Many of the problems highlighted above may be solved by bringing back grammar and technical schools for all.

Garyjenk said...

I've heard a Labour councillor say that an influx of Africans into his ward had improved the results of the local school and was therefore ipso facto a good thing.

His main interest was the possibility that the Council could improve its position in the league tables without having to go to the trouble of improving teaching standards, and he didn't seem that bothered about the education of the working class children a;ready in the area.

Dee said...

I don't understand why New Labour insist that there can be no special education for the brightest children in England, yet in Scotland, New Labour are saying the exact opposite (even though Scotland's MPs won't allow it in England). How do they square that circle?

It will take at least 2 generations to sort out the mess created by this government's education policies.

AC said...

I would be interested to see the statistics on the 'types of families' within which children are raised and their relative (ho ho ho) educational attainment. It would also be interesting to compare these statistics across different ethnic groups. I suspect (but do not know for sure) that children raised within a married two-parent family do better, and that there is also a relationship between the prevalence of this family type within an ethnic group and success at school.

AC

verity said...

What an interesting thread!

First, let's not kill all the lawyers! Let's close down every teachers' training facility in Britain and throw out their textbooks along with their communist social engineering "skills" and modish educational practices that teach nothing but make teachers feel "professional"!

Let's go back to having teachers with degrees in their subject, a love of that subject and a wish to pass on their knowledge to young people coming up. And to spot talent in their field and encourage it. If they know their subject well and like helping young people learn, they don't need this "teacher training" crapola.

And just because the bien pensants think manual labour is icky doesn't mean that everyone feels that way. Some boys of 14 and 15 who are bored at school and are troublemakers would blossom if given a chance to be apprentice car mechanics and electricians. Some men actually like working on large diesel engines. They like diagnosing mechanical problems and fixing them. Some girls really do want to be hairdressers.

I agree with the posters above that we should let unmotivated boys (and girls) leave school at 14 and either be formally apprenticed out, as of yore, with formal papers accorded when their apprenticeship is completed, or attend a technical school where their brains will at last be engaged.

We also have to return Britain to the British, and that means closing the doors to further immigration to our small country, and having a programme to repatriate those who will accept money to go. We will only achieve social cohesion again when the values of Britain are paramount.

(p hitchens, I agree with almost all of your post, but you have misunderstood the North American Free Trade Association. There is absolutely no diminution of sovereignty in the three countries involved and nor will there be. In fact, the US is building a 700 mile fence along the border of Texas and Mexico! No free movement of people, I assure you! I won't go on because I don't want to divert attention from this fascinating thread.)

Close teachers' training colleges - they're destructive; stop making young people feel like failures because they don't excel academically; stop pretending a degree is relevant to the lives of most people's work (it's merely more of Tony Blair's delusional grandiosity; bring back apprenticeship programmes and technical schools.

newmania said...

What a really good set of posts . Best for a long time .I have enjoyed all of them without exception and they have left little to say. I would only add that David Cameron is like a lot of posh people.He will be fine for dealing with the poor . He will be useless with the aspirational lower middleclass and working class.
He will also be uselss with the poor the second they make it into either of the above groups .

newmania said...

What a really good set of posts . Best for a long time .I have enjoyed all of them without exception and they have left little to say. I would only add that David Cameron is like a lot of posh people.He will be fine for dealing with the poor . He will be useless with the aspirational lower middleclass and working class.
He will also be uselss with the poor the second they make it into either of the above groups .

david kendrick said...

A tough challenge---even those masters of the pat answer at the Economist haven't got one.

There are two things not to do. Firstly, listen to anyone who promotes 'apprenticeships' or 'trade schools'. They invariably didn't have one themselves, nor would they advise their children to have one. More importantly, they won't have worked in a company where the CITB levy is an issue, or they would know more about it.

The second non-answer is more 'education'. Its tough enough for teachers to teach the unenthusiastic up to 14. Beyond, it is a waste of time, and both pupils and teachers should be spared the pain.

The key is attitude, or 'aspiration'. The councillor who pointed out that the Asians are 'the new middle class', explains their 'hungrier' approach. That can't be down to the govt, or schools? That can only be done at home?

verity said...

Also, we don't need Polish plumbers. We invented plumbing. We invented the public water supply.

I would vote for the death penalty for Tony Blair for throwing away our incredibly rich heritage. The only country that has contributed as much, in the way of ideas and innovativ thinking, to the world, is the US - another Anglophone country.

This huge mass of foreigners, many of them adhering to a threatening desert cult, for whom we are concreting over our beautiful countryside to provide them with homes when we don't even want them here! - why are we being required to make terrible sacrifices for people we don't want? - must be diminished in some way.

Leaving the EUSSR and dumping the human rights act would be a start.

Neil Craig said...

I agree with Verity about this being a very good discussion.

I have changed my mind about this being solvable by merely taxation reform. I agree with the need for education to enable people to stand on their own skills rather than depend on the state & for a revival of the Victorian social reformers & amateur carers rather than "professional carers" (the word amateur deriving from someone who does it for the love - professional politicians take note).

It is unfortunate that the Welfare State is the institutionalisation of what those Victorians wanted but I guess, like democracy itself, institutions cannot substitute for living humans.

And how we inspire living humans is, almost by definition, difficult.

verity said...

The NHS - introduced, of course, by a socialist government - is probably to most destructive anti-capitalist weapon in Labour's whole armory. It has the population whipped into obedience and it is now telling people what they can eat and how many "units" they can drink.

Before the NHS, there were mutual societies. There were also many, many charities, some supported by churches, some by philanthropists, to take care of the very poor. This kind of self-help has been beaten out of the British by socialised medicine.

The best thing any Tory government could do - which they won't - is destroy the NHS. Sell it off in bits and pieces to private companies, who will make a go of it because the Board and the CEO don't get to keep their jobs unless the shareholders make money.

With its control, control, control Labour has succeeded in killing a lot of the drive that drove Britain to be a force for good and a force for progress. The same mindset is at work in the United States - hi, Al Gore! How's the tobacco crop this year? - but they're having a harder job of it because Americans are more vigilant. The British could have defended their liberties, but they didn't bother.

Tim Almond said...

Verity,

"Let's close down every teachers' training facility in Britain and throw out their textbooks along with their communist social engineering "skills" and modish educational practices that teach nothing but make teachers feel "professional"!"

I doubt that you've ever been near a teacher training college.

I know someone who had a journalist from a daily paper ask to just be a fly on the wall at their teacher training college for a week. They frequently checked the paper after, and nothing got printed. Presumably, the story they got wouldn't have been the one that would have matched their readers stereotypes of tofu-knitting trots with Che posters.

Anonymous said...

@Verity

When you have shut down the teacher training institutions, how to you propose to teach people to become teachers? Just because you have a degree in the subject that you want to teach, this does not in any way mean that you have the ability to teach it to school children.

If you have a problem with teacher training institutions, that is fine. However, be aware that it is not the institutions that force poor education on children, it is successive governments and detatched academics who come up with poor education policies in the first place.

Thanking you.

verity said...

tim almond - You bet your sweet patootie I've never been anywhere near a teacher training college. I try to avoid toxic sites.

anonymous 5:04 asks: "When you have shut down the teacher training institutions, how to you propose to teach people to become teachers?"

Someone with a degree, a love of his subject and a desire to pass on his knowledge already has what it take to be a teacher. At most, they should sit in a classroom observing for a month or two. Teacher training is like sociology departments and media studies: made-up rubbish. A pretend discipline.

I agree that the socialists - especially blair, who sends his children to selective schools - have pounded genuine education into the ground in Britain. But the British let them do it. They either weren't vigilant enough, or they didn't care enough.

Anonymous said...

@Verity

I would disagree strongly that teacher training is pointless. You can be the best mathematician/scientist etc. but this means nothing when you are confronted with a class of children who view all that you believe in and want to teach them to be bollocks.

I have been through teacher training, and the techniques that I learned there have helped me channel my enthusiasm and desire to see my students succeed, so that it actually does them some good. Everything now is results driven, and failure is rooted out. If the Head can't do it, then Ofsted will, and the Head gets sacked. It is all a lot less beardy-weardy than you think.

verity said...

anonymous 6:33 Mountain. Molehill. A month sitting in a classroom watching experienced teachers is plenty.

AC said...

I agree broadly with Verity on this one.

I have been through teacher training (PGCE). The useful component of the course is the part spent in schools learning to teach and listening to the advice you get from people doing the job. Many of the lecturers openly made anti-American, anti-Capitalist, pro-EU statements and were clearly more interested in ensuring that we passed these messages on to our pupils, rather than ensuring we could put into practice the ways of helping children understand what we were trying to teach them, as shown by research.

I kept my notes and handouts for a couple of years, but as I never reffered to them during this time into the bin they went. Four years later, I ignore most of what I was 'taught' during the PGCE and now teach my children in a much more effective way.

AC

verity said...

Thanks, AC. People have been teaching for thousands of years without the benefit of teachers' training colleges and inflated courses, and some might fine minds they stewarded along the way!

Teaching is the passing along of knowledge and, hopefully, enthusiasm. You do not need to sit in lectures and take notes to learn how to do that. If you have a strong desire to be a teacher, you can teach.

Everything else is made-up BS.

Anonymous said...

We all have our opinions, mine differ from AC's. Unless you have been through it you can't really tell.

I would reiterate that I found my PGCE very useful in teaching, although some of it is unecessary (I don't need to know Piaget's theories to make them keep quiet, for example). However, saying get rid of it all is ridiculous, as much of it is very useful.

I feel sorry for AC for having to put up with lefty rantings from lecturers, I did not experience this. Most of my lectures were very functional, "this is the best way to make children understand" etc.

I agree with others that this is a very interestig thread... there should be more about education policies on the blog!

Praguetory said...

Sorry to strike a discordant note, but haven't we got side-tracked from the original post. On a Conservative blog, shouldn't we be talking more about how we (the party, the political classes) reconnect with poor urban whites - many of whom switched allegiance directly from Labour to the BNP in May. This may involve some uncomfortable realities and maybe even some policies?

On reflection, I also take issue with the Economist's blind acceptance of the implications of the Home Office report into self-reported criminality. Although I'm not going to scratch around for an internet link, if memory serves British whites are much more likely than other racial groups to trust the confidentiality in government or quasi-government surveys and speak openly about their own criminal behaviour without fear of repercussions. I'm more persuaded by other evidence related to the ethnicity of criminals.

AC said...

anonymous 9.21 pm

'However, saying get rid of it all is ridiculous, as much of it is very useful.'

It's only ridiculous if what is useful from a PGCE cannot be obtained in other ways.

I am glad you didn't receive any 'lefty rants' during your lectures. You are the first teacher whom I have discussed this with and who did their PGCE within the last ten years who can say so!

AC

verity said...

praguetory - I don't agree that there are things we "should" be discussing on a Tory blog.

We started discussing schools because so much criminality and anti-social behaviour derives from the failure of the educational system to educate - both academically and in citizenship. This "government", if I may use the term, caused much of the failure in the school system, but the Conservatives have offered no remedies.

We on this thread have suggested remedies, like allowing bored children of 14 to leave school and attend a trade school or sign on for an apprenticeship programme. I cannot see how the remarks here are not appropriate.

billy said...

You will get good education when the classes have no more than 20 in and none of those are 'special needs'.
Something like Blair and Cameron suffered.

Praguetory said...

I'm open to the vocational route at an earlier age, but this talk of abolishing teacher training is a non-starter. How about a return to some form of national service? Also, an unwinding of the tolerance towards illegal drugs (esp cannabis) and underage drinking would be of great service to these communities. Of course, we need to argue the case for lower taxes for low earners and a less generous welfare state with more conviction. Rewards for working and a less comfortable safety net would help focus minds.

AC said...

Praquetory

I am open to the idea of abolishing teacher training in the form that it currently takes, although not teacher training per se. I am sorry but I just don't understand the point you are trying to make with the rest of your post.

AC

verity said...

For two or three thousand years, teachers had no 'training' yet they trained some of the greatest minds which are still looked to today.

Teachers want to teach. It's not a professionalably quantifiable skill - which the teachers' unions, always keen to elevate their membership, would prefer it to be. It is the passing on of knowledge. It doesn't require 'training' and 'courses' and degrees. People who want to teach can teach without any interference.

Have you ever heard of anyone who wanted to teach but, mysteriously, couldn't manage it? I thought not.

Mothers and fathers teach their children social skills and they teach them right from wrong. Mother cats teach their kittens to get washed frequently and bury their waste so their prey can't smell their scent. Bitches teach their puppies that, even though it is forbidden, getting up on the couch is OK.

Knowledge is passed on. When did the notion that teachers should attend 'college' for yet one more worthless 'qualification' become embedded in the British psyche?

Neil Craig said...

Billy results seem to show that, within reasonable limits class size is not that important to leasrning, class discipline certainly is.

I think class size, being very easy to measure, is attractive to politicians & for obvious reasons is attractive to teachers unions.

BarkingBoy said...

The problem of social exclusion should be one the tories should be really focussing on. The article is spot on - it isn't a race issue or an education issue it is a social issue. New Labour have shown throwing money at people doesn't solve social exclusion, and the "big centre" approach of this or that government-sponsored scheme doesn't get people involved or make people feel responsible for their own fate.

Verity the NHS is nothing to do with it, there is social exclusion aplenty in the US in the inner cities and "mutual societies" were riddled with problems and rarely provided the poor with a decent level of health provision.

Nor is Charles Murray's outdated and scaremongering work anything to do with this. For those who never read beyond the title, Murray's main contention was that all these social ills came from single mothers and cohabitees.

The problem is the parents, people who feel scrounging on benefits is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice or that a council flat is not just a privilege but a right, and who live the reality of Labour's perverse incentives which see people who actually get work make only a tiny amount extra per week because of the sharp benefit scales and tax credits that reward idleness. Parents need to set an example and instil some discipline in their kids. So many people seem to feel superior to asian families with their cultural sense of obligation and honour to certain moral values but isn't that exactly why the kids behave better and work harder at school? Years of "liberalism" and cultural relativism have drained away the shared values of british people and it will probably take years to build it back. If the tories can devise a way to enable some of this self-belief and cultural pride to grow back, they can win the working classes away from Labour for a generation.

billy said...

Neil Craig said...
Billy results seem to show that, within reasonable limits class size is not that important to leasrning, class discipline certainly is.


Which 'results' are they, Neil?
I've taught classes of 23 and classes of 35, and even without SEN's, you can do more for a class of 23 than a class of 35.

verity said...

barking boy - the socialist government is colluding with the leaders of the invaders. How pathetic that the Brits have not defended their country, and that those doughty (pronounced dowty) ones who do, get whipped with political correctness and are described as trouble-makers.

People defending their own country, its long and honourable history and our ancient society bred of hundreds of generations are described by the traitors in Downing St as "trouble-makers". I would suggest that the trouble makers are the marxists. Tony and Cherie,who know no rules and have vaunting ambitions.

"Paging Inspector Yates! Inspector Yates to the white courtesy phone, please".

Also, Iain, your headline "poor whites" signals hillbillies in the vast Ozarks of the US, not the disaffected in urban Britain. It's offensive. These are people whose grandfathers and grandmothers back for hundreds of generations, millions of lives, built our country.

David Lindsay said...

As a visibly mixed-race person brought up, and still living, in extremely white County Durham (and who has not escaped the political attention of the BNP...), this all rings very, very true to me. But we might as well be living on the moon, of course.