SOYMB is not in the least surprised by the intent of Andy Burnham. We are surprised it is being presented as some new approach. Any secondary school pupils not planning to go to university would be given a clearer "route into work" under new Labour Party plans. The shadow education secretary plans would aim to give every secondary school pupil a path to employment. "Latin is in and engineering is out . Why? It is the thinking of the 1950s," Burnham said. "Government is in danger of preparing young people for a world that no longer exists, by prioritising Latin over engineering and not listening to what employers want." More vocational subjects would be included, such as engineering, business studies and information and communications technology.
State schools have always turned out various grades of worker. In a class-based society such as capitalism education, like much else, is subordinated to the interests of the ruling class. Those interests fundamentally involve the creation of profit which is a vital source of the wealth of the capitalists. Most of education is already geared to the demands of industry and commerce. The main aim of education is to provide the knowledge and skills base necessary for employment in capitalism. Maths, English, science and information technology were established as compulsory subjects up to the minimum school leaving age of 16. In contrast, under the 2002 Education Act, subjects such as history, geography, foreign languages, art and music could be dropped at the age of 14 since most of them were thought to be less relevant to the employment process. The whole curriculum, from start to finish, is conducted within an atmosphere of competition and stress, together with a weeding-out process which segregates those with supposedly superior talents from those less fortunate. This is accomplished through the use of tests, examinations and grading, all of which have a direct bearing upon ultimate occupations and potential earnings. The young already find themselves involved in an intensive training programme, presented under the guise of education.
A detailed description of what would education be like in a socialist society cannot be given since it will be up to the people at the time to decide upon exactly which forms education would take. However, it is very clear that, in complete contrast to capitalism, socialism will put human need first. The welfare and needs of people, both as individuals and as a community will be treated as a priority. The importance of developing to the full, the mental, physical and social abilities and talents of everyone, as individuals, will undoubtedly be recognised. Most significantly, education will inevitably be considered a life-long process and certainly not something to be compartmentalised into time slots, like happens under the present system. Humanity will be able to move forward, considerably through genuine and effective education, towards real progress, both as individuals and as a community.
The knowledge and skills needed to run a society which inherits the best from the past and rejects the worst will be circulated and developed, and the ability to think creatively and critically transmitted from generation to generation. True education, the developing of each individual towards his own well-being and that of society, has not yet been attempted. What is necessary for it is the re-organisation not of schools, but of society.