31 May 1999.
Index of earlier issues.
THE EDITOR has developed RSI in one arm through writing too much on the computer, playing the saxophone and piano too much, and generally being a bit over-physical. There will therefore be an erratic performance until this has cleared up.
Those who like that sort of thing will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site. Look at the Index of Earlier issues for a start. There are also some drawings and sheet music.
BRITISH EDUCATION MIGHT well have been crippled by fear, mass hysteria, prejudice and bigotry for centuries, but it seems to have become far more so in the past twenty or so years.
Starting with the neurotic and obsessive need to check upon and measure everything (a common feature of mental illnesses, incidentally), league tables, OFSTED, statitistics, chartermarks, Investors in People and exam results appear to have replaced happiness, achievement, manners, confidence, ability, an inquisitive mind, science maths and art as the things a principal might worry about.
To achieve this wondrous result, heads have been made into executives who spout jargon and jump when told for fear of losing their jobs, and who spend a lot of their time and energy on trying to impose the same counter-productive ideas on their hopelessly over-worked and under-valued staffs.
The teaching staff, the people most likely to understand the folly of it all, also frightened of losing their jobs, endeavour - despite all experience that seems to demonstrate that it doesn`t work - to impose the system on their pupils.
The pupils, quite understandably and with much justice in my opinion, don`t like what they are getting and therefore do not perform (probably the only bit of retaliation available to them) - and even if they were willing it might well be impossible with 40 to the class.
It is quite easy to see how this untenable situation has come about. Working from the top down, it would appear to be thus: The minister of education at some stage was directed by another politician (one of the least likely people to know anything about education) to do things in this way, and in fear of losing the job tried to impose the ideas upon schools and colleges through education departments, with varying degrees of success, the education departments and colleges passed the problem down to the teaching staff to protect their own jobs, and finally the teaching staff tried to impose them on their pupils to protect theirs.
Nobody in a position to speak with any real authority on the subject has dared question the wisdom ever since, because by questioning they would lose their job - just as they would have done by questioning the existence of god during the dark ages (the only difference being that they would be risking torture and death as well).
Having demonstrated by trying it out that this approach does not work does not not seem yet to have brought any of the various ministers who have had charge of the subject to their senses, and neither does it seem to have brought us any people who are willing to risk their job to get changes made - and until such people begin to show their heads this will continue to be the case. The interesting thing is that most teachers to whom I have talked have told me that the job is no longer something to be worth hanging onto - like it was when they started teaching - they just need the money.
But it may be possible for some of them to take the risk because they could manage without the money. I thought I was one, and that is why I now have only a few part-time classes - but I survive somehow.
As the great majority of teachers and lecturers know from practical experience that the system does not work, it is only a question of organisation. If the dissatisfied would organise they could all act together until a workable system is obtained. This would mean as many people as possible challenging the current wisdom at any and every point where it seems questionable, and would be most effective if everybody including the politicians would get involved.
And risking their jobs to do so - it would appear to be the only way - but perhaps for many it would be be worth taking the risk to change the current misery into a pleasurable and creative activity.
I could virtually repeat the above essay with regard to politics - is it not time to start questioning how things are being done? Is there presently anyone in politics who is willing to question the current wisdom as a matter of principal? Do you really believe that our current politicians are the right people for the job? Do you really think that we are doing politics the best we can? Have the Labour Party changed anything to any degree? Could you imagine a party like the Liberal Democrats being any better? Can you imagine the ghastly Tories coming back into power? Can you imagine any modern British political party having an original thought of any kind in any of their collective heads? I can`t - and I don`t perceive any way we can claim them to be of us, the electorate. They are no more in contact with the electorate than are the various religions.
It really must be time we all stopped foolishly charging around like headless chickens and started trying to change things for the common good - perhaps for you more than for me, in that at my age I haven`t much time to benefit from the results of a serious attempt to improve things.
The first step may be for people to talk to each other quite openly and to go on doing so even if they seem to be shocking people.
Here's an interesting education site - particularly for those who have young children and are not quite sure what to do to avoid the worst of what`s on offer in the mainstream of education.
early Othernews - 1992, 93, 94.
There were a few essays that went out with the early Other News as a freestanding item. You can read these by clicking below.
The Soup Designer`s Handbook.
London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.
(Friday Woodworkers are suffering a temporary break due to some of the episodes not having been fully edited at the time of writing. It may take some timne to fix this problem.
(These articles were written in 1988, and were my first attempt at writing. Some people when shown these fell about laughing, some smiled faintly - and some yawned. I thought I was going to write a technical book, but it soon became apparent that I was much more interested in the people than the technology - and that is the main reason there are no drawings - although it might be rather good to do a couple of caricatures sometime.)
Index of Friday Woodorker articles (and a means of access).
We are still redesigning The Other News From England. Noticed the change so far?
There is at least one new article this week, and articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below).
Index of earlier issues.
A READER COMPLAINED that it was not possible to go back more than 6 articles in Gabriele`s area. Regrettably this is because there is no index, and I have not the time to organise one yet. However, for those determined enough to find the early ones, they should be accessible by going to an early Other News and clicking through from it. This will not be fast, but I think will do the job. They started about November 1997 I think.
(I wish someone would make a contribution before I am forced to put in some of my own stuff here).
So new, in fact, that there is nothing there. I want to open a section of this site to be used as a kind of green reference. Ordinary folks usually know what to do in order to be green, but there are times when (a) they don`t know the technology, or (b)they are short of ideas, or (c) they would like to see what some other people think.
So the purpose of this area will be for people to describe to others how they made their own electricity, or saved a great deal of domestic water being wasted, or captured the methane gas from their cesspit, designed their solar bicycle with regenerative braking and portable overnight windcharger, caused plants to grow in a desert, made a solar water pump, etc.
A site for forward-looking people, in fact.
It may be very difficult to edit, but I would like a few articles and tips that are concise, easily understood and ecologically useful. These will be left on the site, and gradually as the number of articles builds up hopefully somebody will construct an index. I won`t volunteer myself, as I have yet to make a subject index for the whole Other News site.
One week carried an article that might be of interest to anybody thinking of taking out an Abbey National mortgage - or those who already have one.
Interestingly, one of the London papers described them as being "among the greediest".
There will soon be a new twist to this story, but I am not sure what it will be until it happens. They are trying to make it as difficult as possible instead of as easy as possible to resolve the present dispute.
(see last week but one).
This Lexmark business gets worse. I refilled the black cartridge with an ordinary cartridge refilling outfit and it won`t print despite telling me that the cartridge is full and that it is printing.
In an earlier issue I told you about my feelings regarding Tempo retailers and the Lexmark 3200 printer I bought from them. I have now found out another thing about it.
The Lexmark 3200 printer I got from Tempo must surely be the most uneconomical printer I could possibly have bought. The black cartridge only does about 250 pages of ordinary type - for £28! That makes each sheet cost 11.2 pence plus the cost of the paper and probably another 11.2 pence more if any colour is used! - ABOUT 22.4 PENCE A SHEET! Nearly a pound for every four sheets!
I wouldn`t recommend you to buy it - but also look at my earlier article for an idea of Tempo`s service.
These people keep springing up and then disappearing again. They have used a selection of names, but the people always seem to be the same. They are a disco without smoke, alcohol or drugs, and serve refreshments (probably very healthy, macrobiotic, veggy, etc) and dance to a wide range of types of music - including "classical", I am told. Sometimes they go to the Bonnington Cafe afterwards. Also, they occasionally turn up at a LETSSwing gig as a dancing group, and make the dancing a great deal more fun.
Saturdays 7-10pm , 6 March, 3 April, 8th May, at The Contact Centre, 60 Hambolt Rd., London SW4. (10 mins from Clapham Common tube stn. or buses 137, 35, 37. For info ring Kathy Hughes 0181 671 7300. They would like more participants.
A person to help make up a subject index for the growing numbers of articles on The Other News From England. Email email@example.com
8- or more-track tape recorder. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also want good working VW or Volvo 7 series 2.4litre turbodiesel engine. This is the type that goes in an LT van or a Volvo 740TD. email email@example.com
£2,000,000 at 0% interest would quite good too, although I would probably waste quite a lot of it employing musicians to do the great work.
All material on this site is copyright. Contact me if you want to use it. I am quite flexible. Educational non-profit use is free - but ask for permission and print an acknowledgement. If you can`t think what to print, put:
From The Other News From England. http://www.othernews.co.uk