Jobs For The (Rich) Boys

July 21, 2009

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A cross party report headed by former minister, Alan Milburn has illustrated the fact that the top professions are becoming increasingly closed off to all but the most affluent UK families.

Milburn argues that in the past decade the government has done much to improve results, refurbish schools and raise standards. He says the number of failing schools is falling and city academies, located in the poorest areas, are helping to improve the GCSE results of children who receive free school meals at a faster rate than those who do not. However the fact remains that the chance of children who are eligible for free school meals – roughly the poorest 15% by family income – getting good qualifications by the age of 16 is still less than a third of that of their better-off classmates.

The report makes clear that a good start in education is crucial for access to professional jobs, but they also found that more than half of all the top professional jobs were still taken by candidates who went to independent schools – just 7% of all schoolchildren!

Prats like Chis Woodhead famously think that this is down to genetics, but having met many of these high flying professionals (among others we know a creationist paediatrician and a lawyer who specialises in arguing about who’s name comes first on film credits – priceless!) we can safely say that this situation is 100% pure nepotism. In fact the level of specialisation needed to become a ‘professional’ often requires an equal and opposite level of stupefication with regard to many, if not all other disciplines; but only a truly intelligent professional will ever admit this.

For every useful professional there are dozens who’s jobs are superfluous, if not completely redundant. It’s a crazy world where lawyers and accountants receive more public money overall than doctors and teachers. Many so called professional jobs equate to little more than dole for the rich!

But we digress, the real issue highlighted by this report is the two-tier education system presently in place in the UK. With regard to this Mr Milburn has said “We have raised the glass ceiling but I don’t think we have broken through it yet.”

Never mind the ceiling, Alan, it’s the glass fucking walls that we’re worried about!

No amount of tinkering from the government – left or right – will change this situation unless fundamental material inequalities are addressed. A child’s social class background at birth is still the best indicator of how well he or she will do in school and later on in life. At the risk of sounding like Witney Houston, the children are our future, fail them and we fail, period.

A social wage that guarantees a good level of of nutrition, health and access to relevant technologies is an essential first step. Only then, with the establishment of a level playing field for all of our children, could we begin to address education itself.

Unfortunately, given a political system that favours wealth and power, the second step is even less likely than the first. Born of the same mindset that created factories and prisons our education system has as much to do with population control as it has with learning. For years it’s routines and disciplines ensured fodder for the factories of the industrial revolution. Nowadays, in our service sector society, our education system seems more concerned with creating good little consumers. The expectations of both parents and the schools in poor areas often amounts to less than zero and aspiration in children is actively discouraged – it’s a running joke in Doncaster that we have the world’s first ‘University of Hairdressing‘. What is needed is exactly what all governments fear; an education system that encourages free, analytical and creative thought.

Anyone who has a toddler – with their incessant ‘Why? What? Why?’ questioning – will know that Homo sapiens sapienstwice wise don’t you know – have naturally inquisitive minds. We’re also an innately inventive species, but so many of us will leave education with degrees in anxiety, alienation and mediocrity. An education system that does not allow children to reach their full creative potential has failed – or rather it has failed the children, but it has done exactly what is required of it by government.

Our schools should endow us with high quality analytical and artistic skills; we should have a working knowledge of  our bodies, our minds and the physical universe (this is not to say that we can all be scientists or artists, but we can all achieve a level of scientific and cultural literacy that allows us to function as independent, dare we say enlightened, beings). As wealth freed up the time needed for a privileged few to explore science and the arts to create the first enlightenment, technology should now free up time for all of us in order to create a universal enlightenment.  Anything less should be viewed as a form of mental child abuse. If an enlightened population proved too smart to produce shit for lesser men, then so be it. (This, of course, is why governments fear intelligent populations, they’re much harder to control. When it comes to controlling people ‘dumbing down’ has proved even more effective than ‘locking up’; for many entertainment is now held in higher regard than education.)

So there you have it; we believe that a social wage and a humanistic education system would change the world. But then who are we to decide? We’re not professionals!

It’s worth pointing out that these suggestions are not a matter of abstract political ideology, they’re about improving the overall potential of the individual human, which in turn improves the prospects of a given country. The real key to achieving human potential is accessibility. If you don’t believe that poorer humans have the same potential as richer ones then you’re probably Chris Woodhead 😉

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