Sunday, 27 March 2011

I have lately been puzzling over the various arguments for levels of education (as in % of school leavers), credentialism, economic benefit of education. I'm not an economist obviously, but I've not yet seen an argument that quite adds up (so to speak). Anyway, I stumbled across this one, which articulates some of the arguments that float around.

"But my God, go to most places and try and get someone turfed out merely because he's too stupid to pass his exams - it'd be easier to sack a prof. That's the trouble with having so many people here on Education Authority grants, you see."
"How do you mean? The students have got to get their money from somewhere."
"Well, you know, Jim. You can see the Authorities' point in a way. 'We pay for John Smith to enter College here and now you tell us, after seven years, that he'll never get a degree. You're wasting our money.' If we institute an entrance exam to keep out the ones who can't read and write, he entry goes down by half, and half of us lose our jobs. And then the other demand: 'We want two hundred teachers this year and we mean to have them.' All right, we'll lower the pass mark to twenty percent and give you the quantity you want, but for God's sake don't start complaining in two years' time that your schools are full of teachers who couldn't pass the General Certificate themselves, let alone teach anyone else to pass it. It's a wonderful position, isn't it?"
Dixon agreed rather than disagreed with Beasley, but he didn't feel interested enough to say so. It was one of those days when he felt quite convinced of his impending expulsion from academic life.

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim, Penguin, p. 170

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