Today I got a vitriolic email from a Welsh person who disagrees with my views on State-paid, free Grammar School education. It is replete with insults, and inaccuracies based on erroneous assumption…and ends with a naked threat. But it is far from being a unique item in my email inbox.
This bloke has been comment-threading at The Slog since 25th February 2011. During that time, he has made 502 comments – and never once been banned. I think (well, I would really) that he misreads my motives. But like all those who despise opposing opinions, he sees me as some kind of ruthless censor. So the best thing I can do – as a means of disproving that particular hypothesis – is reproduce the email in full here….along with the accusation in its heading.
I urge all wannabe bloggers to read it – and then ask yourself: do I really need to subject myself to this?
What you are too pigheaded to allow to be published at your blog
Mr Ward – if you knew anything about evaluation, you’d know about the concept of ‘Conflict of Interest’. You are without doubt the absolute worst judge of the merits or otherwise of Grammar Schools, because they benefitted you hugely and you assume that because you are God’s Gift to the World, that what is good for John Ward has to be good for the whole of the country.
Here are a few home truths to you from someone who went to grammar school, Public School and whose father was a grammar school headmaster after transforming Physics Teaching in a poor part of Rural North Wales, sending children to top Universities to get 1st class honours in Physics, when before he arrived, not one child in living memory had even got a Physics O Level. That father then rose to become Chief Inspector (Schools) in the Inner London Education Authority, part of which involved taking Secretaries of State for Education and their Junior Ministers around schools to show them good or bad examples of certain educational philosophies.
1. Grammar Schools are generalist education services using unbelievably arbitrary selection methods, namely a verbal reasoning test or, maybe in your day, maths, English and Verbal Reasoning.
So we can have a pretty brutal argument about whether the selection methods had any basis in selecting talent.
2. Grammar Schools assume that the way to learn is teachers standing in front of a class.
We can have a pretty brutal argument about whether you are selecting bright kids or kids or learn well pedagogically.
3. Grammar Schools assume that everyone is equally good at every subject, because they were all good at the Eleven Plus.
That is so nonsensical that it’s not even worth debating.
4. Grammar Schools assume that success in life has much at all to do with intellect, rather than thuggery.
You have got far further with your belligerent thuggery than your intelligence, as displayed by your ruthless insulting of anyone who challenges you. I have heard many senior business executives saying that university degree grades are a useless predictor of success in business. Why? Because thuggery is what gets you to the top and thugs’ primary targets are those who are more intelligent than them. Real world reality, Mr Ward………
5. Grammar School boys like you assume that science is something to study ‘somewhere else’, because you think that grammar school boys like you are superior so science is irrelevant.
In a technology driven world, scientifically illiterate people are a danger to society and it is precisely because Westminster, the Press and half of industry in the UK is full of windbags who studied arts degrees, far too often at Oxford, that the country is so badly run. Once again, you’ll come out with your sneering put downs about science, but only because you are scientifically ignorant, thick as shit where science is concerned, but need a society where scientists are suitably kept at heel by you arts graduates. It won’t wash, Mr Ward…….
Now Mr Ward, because you are scientifically illiterate, you don’t understand how the real world works. The real world is highly complex, full of specialist niches and full of billions of different organisms. It’s not a black and white place with grammar schools and secondary moderns.
The current education system is so far away from bog standard comprehensive as to be laughable. There are specialist academies in all kinds of subjects, from mathematics, ICT, sport/languages etc etc. There are ‘liberal arts free schools’, which are like grammar schools except they don’t have an eleven plus. There are specialist music schools. A new specialist sixth form college for mathematics has been set up, sponsored by Kings College London.
You are 60 years out of date, Mr Ward and because you are a garrulous retired drunk, you think you can get away with it.
The 21st century education provision is going to be digital in nature Mr Ward and that is what threatens you, because doing much more than switching on a ICT device scares the pants off you. We’ve all read your articles about ICT. Well, the real world in the 21st century is ALL about ICT. Spell checkers have eradicated the need for obsessional 8 year old spelling tests. Spreadsheets reduce greatly the need for drilling complex arithmetic. The automation of science means that the numbers of jobs as technicians in the 21st century will shrivel. Sorry Mr Ward and all that. That’s reality and I worked for 20 years in cutting edge science research and you didn’t, so don’t tell me you know and I don’t. I know and you don’t.
You’re too much of a simpleton to want anything more than binary bright kids and thick kids.
Show me that you can design and manage a complex ecosystem of richly complementary schools and you’re worth consulting over education policy.
99% of people opposed to grammar schools have zero interest in uniformity of outcomes, they have an interest in the best education for the most. If you actually read anything of what Michael Wilshaw has done in his life, you’d understand that. You haven’t so you don’t. You just sound like a foghorn of a smearing political hack trashing people who don’t believe what you say they believe.
So you went to grammar school and worked in market research. Big deal. I went to grammar school wtih some working class kids who stole cars and were sent to borstal before taking their O Levels. But you don’t talk about all those working class yobs because you’re from the working class. I do talk about them because plenty of them thought that beating me up and taunting me was a prelude to filching my homework to copy.
The reason you are living alone in SW France is because you can’t get over yourself. It’s all about John Ward.
If you were capable of listening to others with different experiences without trashing them like the working class thug you are, you’d have possibly been a politician.
‘It worked for me and my brother’ is not the basis of policy for 60 million people.
Grammar Schools failed for a lot of very bright kids. Why? They didn’t provide practical training in an intellectual environment. I don’t need practical training to be a plumber, I needed practical training to be a top scientist. I didn’t need lots of classroom time doing bookwork because I could do it on my own in a quarter of the time. I could teach myself European languages in a quarter of the time. Just like I could design organic chemistry synthetic routes at Cambridge in a quarter of the time allotted in a Cambridge University examination. I needed practical teaching at my level, thank you very much. And grammar schools utterly failed to provide it. Any attempt by you to state that I should have gone to Secondary Modern, when I completed the 11 plus exam in 33% of the allotted time, got 750/800 in the GMAT test for MBA applicants etc etc and you can hang from your walnut tree.
So one more word from you about your beloved grammar schools without a fully fledged exposition on how useless they are for a lot of children brighter than you and you’ll be sorry you ever crawled out of a Manchester hovel……..
(Name & email address withheld to protect the vulnerable)