Student power!

Today MPs will vote on whether to raise university tuition fees and Nick Clegg and his fellow lib dems are expected to vote in favour despite being vocal in their election campaign against this (did you see Sarah Teather being chased down the street by a Sky news reporter?). Students have not taken this lying down. They have been on marches and demonstrations for the last few weeks and another is planned for today. There are sit-ins and protests and banner-waving across the country from university students and school pupils.

 Yesterday it felt like I couldn’t listen to the radio or the TV news without a conservative student with an accent that could cut glass defending this decision. One young chap on the BBC news sputtered that some students didn’t even fully understand what they were protesting about. I don’t doubt it. I hazard a guess that many of the young people on marches don’t have a full understanding of the situation but what they do understand is that things are Not Fair and they’re going to do what teenagers do best and rebel.  

 Yes, there have been some idiots breaking stuff, graffiti-ing stuff and making a nuisance of themselves and they really haven’t done their cause any favours but the majority are there for what they believe to be a righteous cause. 

 It’s good to see teenagers involved in something that isn’t just vodka-flavoured and the girls who held hands around the police van to stop people attacking it were a joy to see. Proper Citizenship in action rather than a worksheet in a classroom.

 It will be interesting to see what happens later today.

 What do readers of this blog think about revolting students?

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11 Responses to Student power!

  1. Stray says:

    My heart soars!

    It’s blood fantastic. Bloody fantastic. Finally the big argument is coming out – people are talking about collective interest vs individual interest – and a lot of people who previously only knew they were in favour of iPhones are realising that they’re also in favour of collective responsibility for collective gain.

    A student challenged me on Twitter yesterday – claiming that I just didn’t understand the mathematics of it (bless him!) A quick look at his profile – oh, it turns out he’s in upper 6th at Eton. ETON! Not only is he exempt himself (he will enter uni before the changes take place) but he couldn’t possibly have a clue what the prospect of 9k for a year of tuition does in the hearts and minds of people who have never been around large amounts of money.

    Nick and Call-me-Dave look at the figures and think – “40k – bargain! Less than a Lexus!”

    Kids in Bradford look at the figures and think – “40k – no way! That’s more than a flat!”

    We did not, as a nation, mandate anybody to privatise our tertiary education system. It’s insanity. Complete insanity. If it goes through then maybe we should all withhold our taxes and pay them direct to universities. I’d much rather pay for the training of doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, architects, scientists, social workers – hell, even those lay-about geographers (who’ve turned out to be a little bit useful in the solving of our energy problems)…

    But – on the plus side, it’s politicising a whole generation who up until now thought that mostly most politicians were kind of the same and it’s all about economic nuances. The alphas have no idea what they’ve just started.

    • citizenr says:

      Well I guess even the Eton students are engaging with the debate but it’s good to see the ordinary kids at ordinary schools standing up for themselves. Are where are these jobs paying 21k that graduates will be getting? Last time I checked the government were cutting thousands of jobs. I’m hoping that next election there will be a much greater turn out from younger voters.

  2. Citizen CW says:

    What??? What on earth is wrong with a worksheet in the classroom? Surely you think people should sit in rows and listen and learn rather than engage with the world as citizens?

    OK, end of sarcasm, but I was struck by the comment because so many people do still seem to think that way. If you really want a laugh see these guys: http://www.cre.org.uk/

    On a more down note, it’s worth noting that it isn’t just HE loans are planned for – people sitting Level 3 and even second level 2.

    What has upset me a bit, however, is the number of students who compromise that if fees stayed as they are they would be happy. Education must be free.

    • citizenr says:

      I’ve just looked at the CRE website. Are these people for real? I’ve just read a couple of the articles on their website. As someone who has worked in education since graduating and has undertaken academic research, I can categorically say that there are an awful lot of untruths in there.

      • Stray says:

        Wow – this is a good one from that site:

        “GCSE tests in maths and English ‘could be passed by 11-year-olds'” (Sunday Telegraph, 2 April 2006).

        The statement is actually correct, it’s just also stupid.

        There are a handful of 11 year olds – I was one of them – who were born to do maths and can handle simultaneous equations, pythag, trig, sectors, probabilities, surds and polynomial equations at this tender age.
        Perhaps one in a few hundred. (I don’t really know, us geeks have limited contact with the wider population).

        So yes – GCSE tests in Maths ‘could be passed by 11-year-olds’.

        But it’s quite innumerate to take the extreme outliers of a normally distributed population and use them to represent that population. That understanding of appropriate use of statistics is one of the more advanced subjects on the GCSE maths higher paper… and clearly beyond the understanding of whatever idiots run the CRE.

  3. citizenr says:

    Indeed. There’s also the difference between doing Maths like a robot (answering pages of sums) and having a Mathematical understanding that has relevance in the 21st century. Most of us need years of good teaching to get a handle on this.

    Take a look at the PSHE pages on the site. Value-free and uneccessary. Awesome.

    • Stray says:

      Woah. Value-free? Anyone who has ever spent time with teenagers will know that their understanding of right and wrong is much less muddied than older generations. We don’t need to impose values on kids because once you get them to engage with the question they can rapidly determine morality for themselves, with less self-interest than the average adult.

      You’re right – most people need a lot of good teaching to get to grips with Maths. For most of the history of maths, its teaching has been designed to suit the people who never needed it to be explained in the first place (because they just happen to have math-brains). Even today, boy’s grammar school make little effort to teach the kids who don’t ‘get it’. But modern maths teaching at its best is superb, and life changing for the kids who receive it.

      I have past papers for maths going back many, many years. To say that it was ever more difficult than it was today is just a lie. The questions were drier, possibly uglier, but today we require kids to do increasingly advanced application – to make sense of their answers, not just do it by rote, as well as applying all the same techniques and tools as in the past.

      But anyway… I’m still crossing my fingers that the Lib Dems will find a spine and stand up for their belief in free education. Otherwise we’ll be in the ridiculous situation where you and I, who received a free university education, will in our later years be relying on an entire generation of professionals that our generation required to pay for their own degrees. I kind of hope they tell us to go f’k ourselves!

  4. Pingback: PSHE- the forgotten subject? « I was a public sector worker

  5. citizenr says:

    I’m so upset by the CrE website I had to post about it.

  6. JGHarston says:

    “But it’s quite innumerate to take the extreme outliers of a normally distributed population and use them to represent that population.”
    Like Michael Gove a couple of days ago complaining that it was unacceptable for 10% of 10-year-olds to have a sub-7-year-old reading age. Well, duh!, that’s just natural biological variability. 10% of 10-year-olds also have a plus-13-year-old reading age. What should be tackled is ensuring that the low outliers of literacy are as functionally capable as possible so as to be able to function in society, neither dismissing them as hopeless nor complaining about their existance.

    “Half these children are below average, Something Must Be Done!”

    • citizenr says:

      I absolutely agree. It’s criminal that children who could achieve beter don’t but there will always be chidldren that- no matter how hard you try and how hard they try- will always struggle to keep up. I know, I’ve taugt many! but as you say, that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time and effort. We also have to remember that children with SEN are taught in mainstream classes and they may not reach the same targets as other children but are as important as anyone else in the class.

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