The blunting of minds

Keith Hudson

It is good to hear that Nicky Morgan, Education Minister, is continuing the policy of Tony Blair (Labour) and Michael Gove (Conservative) in promoting both Academies and Free Schools.  Most of the economy of this country is sliding into a low-skill state and vast improvements . . . to education — that is, alternatives to State education —  is the only long term policy that possibly could revive it.

However, if there’s to be any continuing impetus at all, educational policies will have to be pushed a great deal further.  In a caption to a press photo of Nicky Morgan this morning I read:

“Nicky Morgan believes it is unacceptable that young people’s life chances are still being determined by where they are born.”

Generally so, yes, but all the same, many individuals of outstanding merit have been able to overcome the disadvantage of being born in a poor or deprived area.  What no individual is able to do, however, is to overcome the intellectual blunting, or the emotional conditioning of his or her mind by inadequate or dysfunctional parents.  By the age of puberty, or even sooner, the broad opportunities of life for many children have been closed down for life by ineducability or undesirable aspects personality.

As the whole community of neuroscientists is now telling us, life chances are overwhelmingly more determined by the early months and years of a child’s life than any sort of poor schooling from five years of age onwards.  And as any foster parents of a child who’s had inadequate or traumatic experiences in early life, will tell you, it may take years of patience on their part before any adequate sort of restorative therapy can take root.

If any government of the future is going to be really serious about giving full opportunities to children then a great number of children — thankfully still a small minority of the population — will have to be extracted from some parents at a very early age indeed before much damage is done and given to foster parents who can give them loving and adequate care.  But, note well, they must be well paid for this most skilled of tasks.

Of course, it this were ever mooted today, there’d be huge protests from the so-called ‘libertarian’ wing of the population.  It would smack of Plato’s Republic or North Korea, etc.  But if any government of the future were really serious about education and the country’s future well-being — never mind maximising the happiness of children — then the science of neuro-specialists must take precedence over romantic notions of free society.  I’m all for minimizing government but this is one area in which, faiing a full free market in education — which would have been ideal — the government must continue to interfere.

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