In our tenth and final step on developing better education for our children, we look at why governments need to have faith in their people and communities and to support education for the welfare and development of democracy.
These 10 steps first appeared as a part of a briefing paper for British parliamentarians. They could equally apply to many governments around the world.
#10 A Matter of Trust
Parliament must understand that a decline in electoral turnout is not a problem in its own right but reflects a far wider decline in its perceived legitimacy and authority.
Parliament has to remind itself that for a democracy to be fully functional, the state cannot simply be defined in terms of a government that makes and administers the laws within which individuals are then left free to do their own thing.
Most day-to-day activity has nothing to do with the law; it is about getting on with our neighbours and creating a quality of life that depends on access to people we trust and admire. Just to live within the law means very little; but to live within the law and have a sense of civil society is to create a great place in which to live.
For the laws to be respected the people have to trust the lawmakers with doing for others what they would expect to have done to themselves –authority based on their personal example. It was in April 2009 that the Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education pleaded with Members to stop thinking of education as a commodity, but rather as a preparation for a democratic society “because community schools can only be made better when all the community support them”.
Education is not just about individuals, it is about how those individuals pull together for the common good. The more people who see themselves as strong enough to grab one of the few life jackets and swim to shore, the fewer are the oarsmen left to bring the others to safety.
If Members fail to understand this, and have so little faith in what they might administer on behalf of the country, where is their personal commitment to undertake that fundamental change that has eluded English education for so long?
In the final analysis, who would trust a doctor who was not prepared to administer the same treatment to his or her own children that he or she had administered to other people’s children?
10 steps towards a better education
#1 Understand Learning
#2 Reassert Intelligence
#3 Affirm the Family
#4 Strengthen Community
#5 Unpack the Curriculum
#6 Preparing the Teachers
#7 Empower Local Communities
#8 Reverse an Upside Down System
#9 The Case for the All-through School