Every few years, a new teaching Idea washes over the educational establishment, sweeping all before it. Out with the old!, people shout, as they look back in amazement at the times before the Idea, wondering bemusedly how anyone managed to learn anything at all. They barely restrain themselves from lynching the teachers, or at least having them arrested for criminal negligence, and set out their plans for Change.
Everything must Change. The heads of the heads must roll, teachers must be taught all about the new Idea, textbooks must be re-written, exams transformed, the department of education itself must Change. In fact, the whole concept of education is to be so radically altered, the word itself won’t mean anything like it used to.
As these changes are expensive, difficult, controversial and involve cuddly children and their voting parents, governments are for some reason not overcome with enthusiasm when a new Idea comes along. This is poor planning on their part; they should know that every five years, they have to change education from the bottom up again, so they should be ready for it.
In fact, they should do more than that; they should plan for it, and get all the changes ready far in advance. Then, once the time comes round again and they start to hear the rumbling of Change starting, they should then – discreetly – contact an eminent professor or two. And tell him how scandalous it is that there is not more ‘Child-centred learning’ or whatever, despite the professor’s recommendations to that effect. The professor will blink once or twice, trying to remember when exactly he recommended that, but before he has time to collect his wits the government agent will calm him by use of a secret manipulation technique know as Flattery. And within a few minutes those professors will be shouting to the rooftops about the lack of Child-centred learning. A few weeks later, once the bandwagon has picked up speed, the government can jump aboard it with a minimum of fuss.
As a first step to this ambitious program, we have set out what the educational fashions should be for the next century, as well as the major changes these will entail, and, finally, as a free bonus, the clothes fashions that will be popular in those years:
|Date||The Idea||The Changes||Clothes Style|
|December 2006||‘Whole Theme Learning’ Students will be put in close proximity to textbooks and other learning material, in the hope that knowledge will leap from one to the other.||Surprisingly little; in fact, despite the necessity for textbooks, they will never be actually opened or used, so wear and tear will be minimal. Students will continue to fail the same tests as before, and teachers and the government will continue to blame each other for this.||A daring period of white translucent clothes, giving way to angry pastel ‘wear one day, throw out the next’ wrap-around plastics.|
|October 2009||‘Bring Back Caning’ A brief interlude which will witness the return of good old fashioned discipline; will end in a breakout of good old fashioned arson.||Each teacher will require five canes of various thicknesses per day. Tests remain the same, but ‘correct attitude’ and ‘neatness’ will become the core subjects of all diplomas. The appeals procedure for aggrieved parents and students will be abolished (but keep the appeals staff available, as they will be needed in two months time).||Jeans with padded or reinforced bottoms will become inexplicably popular during this period.|
|December 2009||‘Ultra Child Centred Learning’ Children will be put in charge of school organisation and curriculum design, as well as disciplining.||Text-books and tests will be rewritten to consist of questions about the loneliness of being a teen-ager, and what garments are fashionable (see next box) as well as about the lives of the ‘Roof’ stars. (Roof is the youth music of the time; though it isn’t anything that you or me would call music).||Like their Roof star heroes, students will wear green berets, green socks, green condoms, and industrially shredded black overalls. Specially bred cats will serve as necklaces. The really fashion conscious will have a tree growing in their hair.|
|December 2015||‘International Learning’ In an effort to instil a spirit of multi-culturalism, students will be taught as if they were living in various different countries of the world in turn. Teachers should only teach in the local language of that country, but will stutter a few words of English if shouted at.||The department of Education, all signs, textbooks, and tests should be translated into a new language each week. Classroom social habits will similarly be rotated on a weekly basis, and teams of workmen will work around the clock to uproot plumbing and put leaks in the ceiling when imitating an impoverished third world country, and will rebuild the school to excessive standards when imitating the Republic of American Suburbia.||Bell bottoms will be briefly popular again, before people look around and actually realise what they’re wearing; minimal clothing and technological adornments will then be the mainstay.|
|January 2018||‘Parent Centred Learning’ Power, authority and responsibility will be returned to those who really should be at the centre of the learning process: The parents.||Schools will be closed, and rented out as gambling casinos and strip clubs; the Department of Education will be become a surprisingly benevolent mafia ruling over them. Test will be available to particularly cruel or dedicated parents upon request.||Clothing will become so minimal it will disappear altogether; genetically modified hairstyles will be the rage.|
|June 2022||‘IT Process Centred Learning’ Computers will be used more. And that’s about as much as the intellectuals in charge of creating this idea can cope with.||Re-open the schools closed down at the previous stage, and give them, erh, more computers.||The Cyborg look will be in; with a retro 486-processor twist to it, and jeans made from woven fragments of Saturn’s rings.|
|April 2029||‘Survival Centred Learning’ After the total collapse of western civilization and its accompanying bloodbath, life will return to the light-hearted hunting, frolicking, fighting and diseases. Students will gaily focus on begging for food while trying to survive the beatings of their parents.||Educational departments will find it hard to justify their bloated bureaucracy during this period. Schools will be useful fortresses for local warlords. Tests will make superb bonfires, and computers will find use as barricade components.||Leaves and animal furs. Human skins on occasion.|
|October 2105||‘Psychic Centred Learning’ After the discovery of psychic powers saves humanity from its wars, learning will proceed by the technique of ‘reading the mind of some who already knows it’.||Surprisingly, the department of Education will still be around, as people will still need something to blame for low educational achievement. Tests will still be set, but no-one will take them; that still won’t stop people complaining about them being constantly dumbed-down.||Naked, shimmering, coloured flesh, like the erotic dreams of a gang of particularly sensual lap-dancers. |
I’ll go and take a cold shower now.