My education manifesto

by D.J. Webb

1. Privatise the whole education system
2. All teachers’ salaries set by the schools
3. A voucher system instituted allowing parents choice, but the vouchers set at a level that does not cover the full cost of education (e.g. requiring a top-up co-payment averaging 10% of the cost of attending an unglamorous school from the parents, and much larger top-ups to attend better schools). Unmarried mothers with five children would still have to find a certain sum for their children’s education.
4. Education no longer compulsory: those who can’t afford to send their children to school can just keep them at home. No checks on home-schooling.
5. Schools banned from monitoring children’s weights, and also banned from monitoring the content of lunch-boxes.
6. Parents entitled to sue the school for lack of discipline in schools (unruly pupil behaviour, pupils allowed to text messages on mobile phones during class, etc). No insurance can be taken out by the schools to cover this—that would only push up the cost of education, while insulating the teachers from accountability—offending teachers would be sacked without a character.
7. Sex education in schools liable to lead to a paedophilia investigation of the teachers.
8. Children who become pregnant, no matter how young, see their school-days automatically terminated.
9. All schools single-sex.
10. All schools required to have decent uniforms. Parents could sue the schools based on the lack of appropriate policy in this regard.
11. The teaching of multi-culturalism and racial hysteria made illegal. Parents can sue where such abuses are found and have the teachers sacked.
12. Islamic schools and other schools exclusively for immigrants closed down. A Christian ethos required by law in all schools. Those who don’t approve can home-school their children.
13. All schools become selective.
14. A 16+ baccalaureate introduced, marked out of 1,000 on the basis of 100 marks for 10 subjects. Children only entered for five subjects can gain a maximum of 500 marks, but then cannot proceed to further education. The 10 subjects must include English Language, English Literature, Maths, Latin and a modern language. Schools that don’t teach Latin can only enter children for 9 subjects, restricting their maximum mark to 900. An IQ test is taken along with the 16+ and the result included in the mark thus: 800/100, for a pupil with an 80% rate in this 16+ and an IQ of 100; 400/90 for a subnormal child. The 16+ would be expected to produce a sharp differentiation in results. If more than 5% of children scored over 900 in any year, an investigation of the exam boards would result. No coursework is included, and no late summer retakes are undertaken. Children who fail their exams can study for a further year at FE college and try the whole baccalaureate again.
15. All children are taught good English. Bad spelling and bad grammar produce a large drop in marks in all subjects. Incorrect use of the subjunctive, use of Americanisms, use of slang and text-speak all have serious consequences in terms of marks. English literature requires the knowledge of several Shakespeare plays and several Victorian works. There is no national curriculum, but the exam syllabus is so heavy that schools have to teach good material, as there is little room for “modern lesbian fiction” and the like on the school timetable.
16. A mark of 700 required to proceed to further education, with the 18+ similarly rigorous.
17. No young person without a good result in the 18+ is allowed to apply for university. There are no access courses designed to get round this.
18. All former polytechnics are closed down. Pupil numbers at university are controlled to below 20% of the population. Courses are required to teach, in the main, British students. All funding of university stops: parents can arrange their own funding.
19. All education colleges are closed down and the B.Ed. degree at university discontinued.

46 responses to “My education manifesto

  1. Hey man, I think I’ll adopt that, when I’m Principal Secretary of State for War in the first administration of the Democratic-People’s-English Revolutionary-Liberalist-Party’s government (libertarian, minimal-statist, classical liberal.)

    I presume that the execution of these provisions can come under the War Secretariat, since your government will be minimal-statist, and there will be very few other Ministries – perhaps two or three at most.

    Regarding the polyechnics: would not it be a good idea to keep some of the less awful ones open, as what they originally were meant to be?

    Also, I think you’d want to make the Latin-Bacc compulsory for anyone proposing ot do a science degree? And what about at least a 5th-form grade in classical Greek to go along with it? Specially for scientists.

  2. I am definitely in favour of Latin and Greek – although I did O level Latin, but never had the chance to study Greek. My idea is that we should not monitor and inspect schools – as they would be private and parents would choose as customers, they could monitor them themselves and sue if they weren’t happy. The state should only monitor the exam board and the baccalaureate’s marking scheme – to make sure Shakespeare is on the curriculum etc – but monitoring exam papers is much easier than visiting every school, and so nearly everyone in the Department of Education would be made redundant.

    I forgot to say: all schoolwork is done on pen and paper. No messing about on computers – which is not real learning. All schools to use corporal punishment – or at least, schools that don’t use it and have a discipline problem would face legal suits by parents. If the children are disciplined and don’t need the cane in middle-class area, then fine. Schools to expel whoever they like. No children “statemented” as attention-deficit and dyslexic etc. We could possibly set all teachers the 1950 O level in their subjects. Eg maths teachers who can’t pass the 1950 O level paper would be sacked as having insufficient knowledge of the subject. General Studies abolished. Yes, some polytechnics could remain open, and there could be cooking and metalwork courses for those not academically minded, but without making them GNVQs equal to O levels…

  3. no degrees in nursing: wiping old people’s backsides is not a degree subject.

  4. Strikes me as not being very libertarian.

  5. Ideally you would just do the first two and leave them to it, but in our nanny state world I think the voucher system is an excellent idea.

  6. Well, you could gradually reduce the vouchers, or freeze their value, allowing inflation to erode the % paid for publicly over time – as personal taxation was eliminated, the vouchers could be scaled back. We are in a bind as a society as many people have managed their lives on the assumption of public support: eg unmarried mothers with 5 children have calmly assumed that the public will pay for everything, but logically a mother should not be able to contemplate bringing multiple children into the world without a husband, as in a free society, she would not be able to ask the state to support them, pay for their health, education, housing etc. So a cultural shift is required. Instantaneously ending the state – well it would lead to millions of people starving in the streets, as they have manoeuvred themselves into a position of dependency, often deliberately.

  7. “Strikes me as not being very libertarian.”
    I got the impression that the list started veering form libertarianism after a good start. Perhaps a conservative program?

  8. Etjon, how is the land of the eagles nowadays?

  9. Nobody said that libertarians cannot _a-priori_ be conservative, or indeed vice versa. It strkes me as a libertarian conservative nationalist – which is probably to say: an English classical liberal – that mass education of large populations in one culture has plainly been shown to end in disaster, if left to be the government’s buiness.

    The first steps anyone like DJW would have to take, will look like breaking a lot of eggs at once, in order to remake the right omelette. The real problem actually is:- how do we get “there” from “here”?

  10. Latin OR Greek for sure (if they can learn Greek, man its hard) should be the choice. I studied Latin (given the choice). Its (Greek) a langauge of the classical teachers as well though. And just straight up no more funding for post secondary …period. Scholarships and Bursaries only.

    As for it being Libertarian I think so.

    I think Libertarians need to re-think the role of minimal education and healthcare. Its a matter of national defence. One cannot defend their nation if they are sick or stupid.

    The requirements for a small amount of basic compulsory education (and perhaps post secondary if they signed a contract to work for the government(civilian or military work) for a period of time to pay it back) are neccessary for national defence.

    As far as healthcare goes some basics are required as well. The ability to respond to a national crisis where a virus or plague is spreading in the nation. Some form of (emergency) disease control, the military would probably be best to handle this role.

  11. Once you’ve done 1-3, none of the rest of it is any of your concern whatsoever.

  12. Etjon Basha


    We’ve seen far worse days

  13. A Christian ethos required by law in all schools. Those who don’t approve can home-school their children.

    Oh, good grief. You want compulsory indoctrination with a bunch of Bronze Age myths from a distant middle eastern land? You want your kids believing twaddle, you teach them it on your own time!

  14. Compulsorily telling private companies what to do with their businesses in any regard sounds pretty bad to me whether forcing one religion or banning another.

  15. We are not talking here about deregulating the hot food retail sector, where all that needs to be done is:

    a) Sack all the regulators;
    b) Pass a Consolidating Act to remind all parties of their common law rights and responsibilities.

    Education is part of ideological state apparatus. It is one of the mechanisms by which the people are propagandised into consent. Almost everyone involved – even those who wouldn’t be sacked on day one – has been trained as an agent of propaganda and control for a malign ruling class. A revolutionary junta would not be able to disengage all at once. I may not go entirely along with the DJW plan. But we shall need something like this.

    The important thing to bear in mind is that whatever structures of control are kept going should not be allowed to become permanent, or the means of imposing a new propagandistic straitjacket.

    Re vouchers: I am agaisnt these in current circumstances. They would be another means of imposing state control over the independent sector. As a transitional funding arrangement, however, they might be useful to get parents used to paying for education in much the same way as they now pay for holidays and hairdressing.

  16. Sean, the point about Education being a (major) component of the ISA is correct. However, David’s post demonstrates the clear distinction between libertarianism and conservatism. Conservatives want their own ISA and other control apparatuses. It’s just a somewhat different set of ideologies they want to impose (broadly speaking, Political Correctness Version 1.0, the Victorian one).

    It is fundamentally erroneous to attempt an imposed corrective. You will just end up with another form of tyranny. In this case, for instance, schools not teaching a “Christian Ethos”, whatever the fuck that is, ending up in court, closed down, etc etc. This is entirely the same thing as the “Left” currently do, of trying to impose correctives. It is bound to failure, at least from a libertarian perspective. It will also fail from a Conservative perspective, but in a different way (i.e. re-Christianisation will not be achieved anyway).


    I really do wonder at the kind of mind that concludes that the very definition of an Englishman is somebody who speaks Latin and Greek and worships a God from Palestine (in a manner invented by the Persians, for heaven’s sake!). In a kind of rhetorical sense, one would say, “it’s baffling”. From an historical perspective, we can understand that these are the affectations of a ruling class who, historically, always aspired to be Oriental potentates and thus considered their own people to be little more than filthy barbarians. But what on Earth libertarians would want that for, is, um, baffling.

    We lost an Empire because it was administrated by people whose sole qualification was the ability to quote Homer to each other in the original Greek. We really do need to do better than that.

  17. Well of course, I’m an anarchist so I’d stop at point 1, and point 4 kinda goes with the territory but we’re not really debating that here… but I’d strongly suggest that the market would rid education of all the propagandist types as if people were actually paying for their children to be educated then they’d want value for money.

  18. Unfortunately, simply privatising the education system and leaving it there would simply play into the hands of the education producer interest, who would fleece the average parents for low-quality and politically tendentious education. As for a Christian ethos, this is a society with a distinct history and identity, and the absence of any values whatsoever among the young is precisely what keeps the state going today.

  19. As for a Christian ethos, this is a society with a distinct history and identity, and the absence of any values whatsoever among the young is precisely what keeps the state going today.

    Curious. When I look at our rulers, I see a multitude of “values”. Social justice, environmentalism, feminism anti-discrimation, and so on. Who is it who is absent of values?

    The lumpenproletariat? Possibly, but it’s not them setting up Quangos and passing laws and expanding the State. It’s the people with the “values” doing that. The logical conclusion for a libertarian would be that we need fewer of these “values”, not more of them. They’re the source of the problem, aren’t they? All these damned values everyone has!

  20. Erm, guys, well, I dunno do I, I’m just in charge of the Chimpanzee Type-writers in the nissen hut here. I understand why DJW says things like “Christian Ethos” and I think this is important in that:-

    (a) Christianity-ness (a good de-Russianization of the idea would be “ChrisztiaNost” in the modern world is not about forcing people to behave in particular ways such as no alcohol, no sex on Sundays, women MUST wear long skirts in black, father reads the Bible aloud over Sunday dinner and nobody else must utter a beep, etc: these mountebanks who do this stuff are not Christians but puritans like what IanB always tells us about (and he’s right about them.) Ordinary Christians mostly like looking at pretty young ladies without their clothes (the ladies, not the Christians usually) and drinking rather a lot of alcohol as often as can be managed. In order to regulate social behaviour into minimal-cost-patterns, the Universial Church (which is to say Catholics) invented “confession” – which is not the same as compulsory imposition of a result, but a method of getting someone to reflect on his actions. That’s, er, all it is really.

    People who compulsorily prescribe behaviour-regimes are StaiNazis: they know they are right, and you will comply or die (or rot in “Hell”, er, as it were.) Modern StaliNazis bypass the hell bit and just “die” you anyway, saving themselves dosh and getting your food, houses and children into the bargain. StaliNazis and FabiaNazis are a bit like mesolithic hunter-gatherer tribal groups in which up to 25%-35% of all human males could expect to die violently by the age of 20.

    (b) I actually think that to build a good sound libertarian civilisation, which is after all why we are all talking on here, or we’d all go away and do something lucrative instead, a general thought-framework “at least informed” by Christianity – or Judaism also for that matter – would be one of the least-bad-starting-points. This meme-framework would have to be at least shared generally by everyone, and would ideally be more or less agreed. I understand Ian’s irritation with Persian-model Gods turning up in Palestine suddenly and all that, but that’s what we have to work with, and by and large the general belief in this fella (or three fellas if you like) has worked to contain the worst excesses of pre-capitalist barbarism, over time. This is sort of true at least in the Anglosphere. It may be that general, Anglican-type-Christianity of the rather loose sort (which is what most catholics I know also privately follow) does not actually work in any other culture. The evidence points to this.

  21. David, I’ve nothing against people being Christian, and fully expect a lot of religiosity- perhaps more than today- in a libertarian society.

    I do however take issue with the idea that people need any particular religion to be either good chaps, or be English, or any other culture. Religion has often been the vehicle for moral virtue and as you know I have often observed that the Church was a great boon to us during the chaos of the Dark Ages. I have also myself emphasised that Christianity is an essential part of our cultural history. I have also however also observed that the Christianity that got us through the Dark Times is effectively now extinct, having been replaced by the raving fundamentalist lunacy of the Protestants during the Reformation, so it is hard to know how much to credit Christianity as it is with the successes of Christianity as it was.

    One of the things I have already observed here is something David, as a rather nationalist fellow, ought to think as peculiar as I; as soon as people start talking about “our” great culture, they start banging on about Greeks, Romans, Jews and so on. Not a mention of any fucking Englishmen, or western Europeans in general. It’s all those bloody latins, greeks and swarthy arabs. Haha! What gives?

    “You can’t be an Englishman if you deny the God Of the Jews!”.

    Eh? What’s that all about?

    So here’s the curious thing. The Jews, they got kicked out of their little satrapy of Yehud, and ended up having to live among us Western Europeans. Christianity got kicked out of the Middle East also, and Christendom ended up with just Europe and Northern-Western Asia. The one group of people who got to carry on worshipping the Oriental God in the Oriental way are the Muslims, and nobody likes the way they carry on.

    So we ought to pause and ask ourselves this question; these cultural values we admire in ourselves- liberalism, individualism, intellectual enquiry. DId Christianity bring them to us? Or did we already have them, and give them to Christianity? Did the old Western Church really express Judaic values, or European ones? Did the Jews stop being zealots and killing for Yehouah because they lived among us?

    They’re significant questions, and ones that those who would turn the schools into a Christian equivalent of madrassas should ask themselves.

    You know my view on all this. I think Europe gave liberal individualism to Christianity, not the other way around. Others may think differently. But for God’s sake, I do wish people would stop all this about bloody Greeks and Romans and Judaeo this and that. The Romans collapsed into Oriental despotism. The Greeks never amounted to much. The Jews had their asses kicked by the (then) Pagan Romans. Once the Romans got Judaeo-Christianism, they ended up huddled in a decaying Constantinople, achieving nothing and speaking Greek, their cultural connection with Europe entirely severed, with Emperors- resplendent in their face powder and wigs- called Stavros Theotokopopodopalopoulos and the like, fighting and killing each other over whether to have bloody pictures in their bloody churches or not.

    It’s not much to aspire to, is it?

  22. Your comments on the Greeks have been noted. I may respond when I have recovered from my swoon.

  23. Well Sean, I will email you some smelling salts to aid your recovery :)

  24. Ian, you ought to write formally for us, you know – instead of turning up randomly, assaulting the china-shop door, and blundering into various fragile, upendable, glass-filled fixtures in your remorselessly logical progress through the roots of liberal philosophy!

  25. Well actually David, now isn’t much of a good time for personal life reasons, but if you’re still interested in a few weeks, ask me again, what with my now having been kicked out of two blogs for insulting somebody’s wife, and all.

    In general, I’m sorry to go on, but it does get on my nerves a bit that so many people seem to think that being “Western” means aspiring to a culture whose idea of cleanliness was a briny rag on a stick. A shared briny rag on a stick. I mean, we can do better than that, can’t we?

  26. I don’t accept that Ian B is a libertarian, as the anti-culture thing is just state propaganda. At best, it is a crass regurgitation of state propaganda, not realising that the logical end is state power.

  27. The large amount of dictatorial edicts on your list doesn’t say much for your qualifications as a Libertarian Mr Webb. I share some of your beliefs so I am not as upset as I would otherwise be but little about your coercive manifesto smacks of freedom to my view. Ian B may not share your convictions but he is as much a friend of liberty as any here. I have no problem with Christanity per se but many of its followers are frightened half-wits–vicars who piss their pants about people doing yoga in the Church hall, nitwits who won’t watch “The Devil Rides Out” (in case its Satan’s home movies of his day at the seaside?) ,as if the mighty and infinate creator of the Universe needs help from a bunch of frightened rabits.

  28. Mispelled infinite and rabbits–God help me.

  29. On second thoughts –rabits might be more apt.

  30. I’m not entirely sure that you know what a Libertarian is, DJ, but it’s not a type of conservative, although some conservatives are libertarians.

  31. Well, Ian, I don’t like being dragged into a debate that is purposefully fruitless and circular. A free society is based on certain cultural preconditions, among which are strong families and little platoons, and healthy cultural values were more evident in our historically conservative cultural period than today. For example, those who believe that it the libertarian right of unmarried mothers to have ten children by unknown fathers are missing the point that this can only happen where the state will look after them. To argue for licence and a minimal state is simply confusion on stilts. People should be brought up with some basic moral beliefs and with a common cultural heritage, and without it, we are looking at the ever-expanding state. It is quite false to claim that England is a ragbag of 50 million individuals with no obligations or ties to each other – we are not in a presocial state of nature, and we are individuals in society rather than lone hunter-gatherers. Misunderstanding this is at the root of nearly all misconceptions surrounding the nature of a free society. You have to have a society before you can talk about whether it is a free one. I am not going to get into deliberately fruitless exchanges with people who spout state propaganda, as I don’t have time to today.

  32. The programme Mr Webb suggests is actually more coercive than the present education system when you think about it, as he’s now telling private businesses how to operate, rather than the state merely telling it’s own employees (leaving how they are funded out of it for a second) what it expects from them.

  33. Certain aspects of DJW’s programme were more or less universally in force up till the last quarter of the last century, and most people came out of it rather well educated in a general sense. Whether I’d describe it as “more coercive that the present system” I think is a matter for further discussion. I can’t think of anything more coercive, in all sorts of both open and subtle ways, than a modern British state school. You just try, even as a parent of one of their little charges, striding into one past the ID-card-wearing staff, in the hope that you can see someone, or – heaven forfend! – actually extract your child physically.

  34. The key point is that public services have been captured by a poltically extreme and kleptocratic producer interest. As we have seen with banks, just because something is in the private sector, doesn’t mean to say it is good value or even in the public interest. Privatisation of education could easily lead to a situation where the existing producer interest remain in control, fleecing the public even more for even poorer quality education services. Rip off Britain is everywhere, and people who support the free market need to realise the cultural change in this country that has led to the ripoff Britain. Parents need the tools with which to sue teachers who deliberately provide low-grade education in an admittedly privatised set up. That should be done by the parents suing the schools, and not by school inspections or government regulators. If the parents are happy with the teachers who bully the children for saying “you’ve got chocolate on your face” to a black child, then they won’t sue the school – but I would suggest that merely privatising the system does not address the way the private adn public sectors have jointly bought into politically correct rhetoric nowadays.

    Political correctness it the ideology of the state, or rather, it is a politicised ideology that reflects the joint public-private sector elite’s preoccupations. There is nothing wrong with saying that preaching hysteria on race at school is a long way to actually teaching children history, literature, geography, etc – and is not quality education. It would not be quality education in a libertarian society either – although if parents choose to pay for it, then that would be up to them.

    Some foolish participants in this low-grade discussion, eg whoops, seem to believe that libertarianism=no laws at all, thus enabling the private-sector producer interest to do as they like to the “little people” – ie, us. A corporate nightmare. Eg laws that prevent the sale of rotten food are to Whoops just “state coercion”. Yet rotten food is not wholesome and cannot be classified as nutritious, and the sale of rotten food should lead to supermarkets being sued by customers. It is the same with rotten education. With so many children leaving school illiterate, you would think some “libertarians” would remove their heads from their buttocks and recognise that something is rotten with education in this country, and to move to a system that charges high prices for deliberately unproductive education amounts to an even greater exploitation of the population than what we have now.

  35. Supermarkets selling rotten foods leads to customers taking their business elsewhere, once education is both private and non compulsory I don’t see any reason why the same wouldn’t apply.

  36. Legalising the sale of rotten foods as well as a large range of other torts on the grounds that you could take your business elsewhere – reminds me of China, where, eg, healthcare is mainly paid for privately, but the culture is such that the medicines sold in the hospitals often don’t contain any drugs or only a tiny bit to maximise profits for the drug companies – and there is nothing anyone can do. They can take their business elsewhere – but it is the same story everywhere in China.

    It is a cruel con for so-called libertarians to sponsor the privatisation of rubbish education in such a way that the poor have no way to find affordable education that is even worth the name for their children.

    Is libertarianism just a theoretical covering for a socioeconomic race to the bottom? Somalia here we come?

    There is such a thing as good education, and what we have today is not it. Eg education where the teachers deliberately do not correct spelling because of their view that there should be no standard English is quite nonchalantly disregarding the interests of the child, as well as not actually being education at all. It is quite reasonable to expect that every child can read and write after 11 years at school. There is nothing “coercive” about saying that parents should be able to sue the schools and have the teachers sacked where their children are not learning to read and write.

    Unfortunately much of this “free market” stuff ignores the fact that the cultural revolution extends well into the private sector today, and that privately provisioned by socially necessary goods such as education are under the control of a producer cartel.

    What is this non-argument we are having all about? What it boils down to is the fact that many people in the libertarian “movement” actually approve of politically motivated education that reflects a determination among teachers to drive our country down market. If education of this sort continues under a privatised regime, it would create a powerful argument for renationalisation – after all, the state’s occupation of the education ground is based on its claim to ensure quality as well as free service.

    The way culture wars work is that most or nearly all of the people who claim to oppose the state, at least formally, have swallowed most of the state’s agenda, and so end up supporting a range of cultural positions that actually justify state power.

    I can only respond to interesting and thoughtful contributions in this thread – I have violated this principle too many times today already.

  37. I think from my perspective the problem here is that DJ is using a mental model of liberty which is in fact much more common than the libertarian one, but isn’t particularly libertarian. It is basically the idea that liberty can only exist within certain social constraints, and that true freedom of action is not liberty. We find this among many Conservatives, routinely on the Left, and among religious groups- for instance Muslim Brotherhood theorist Saieed Qutb based his reasoning on the same model- that a Muslim is only free to be a Muslim if everybody else is forced to be a Muslim. Likewise on the Left we find the argument that this “true” liberty can only exist in a society free of e.g. racism, homophobia and economic inequality. So it is very common. In fact, it can be argued that it it is the primary ideological justification for taking away liberty- in pursuit of this “higher” or more “true” liberty. There are indeed points in DJ’s argument in the comment thread here where he starts sounding virtually Hegelian.

    So for instance in DJ’s model, in order to preserve this particular social framework he considers obligatory for his true liberty, he has to take away e.g. my liberty to send my (hypothetical) kids to a secular school that doesn’t make them dress in absurd blazers. He has to close down by force every opposing type of school; he mentions Islamic schools, but it would seem he has to shut down Jewish schools for instance too. Maybe even Catholic ones, since in other posts he has intimated that being CofE is integral to being a True Englishman, but I admit I am speculating on that. He grudgingly allows that persons like myself will still be allowed to home-school our children (how kind of you DJ!) but presumably even if a few parents got together to teach our kids collectively for practical reasons, that would be a “school” and the Mutaween would close us down.

    This is precisely the type of reasoning that got us into this Statists mess in the first place. Everyone has an idea of how they think society ought to be, and when they think about how to achieve this, they rapidly fall down a slippery slope of regulation, coercion and You Can Do This and You Can’t Do That. People can’t be trusted to decide things as individuals because of this mental model that social stability requires that everyone do a certain thing. It normal follows therefore, as with DJ above, that they develop hostility to free markets, because free markets will supply what the consumers want, not what the theorists and authoritarians want, such as atheist schools.

    It is easy for anyone to write a shopping list of what they want society to be like. We all do that. The proper position for a libertarian though is surely to recognise that liberty requires accepting that other people want different things. I am an atheist. But as a libertarian I wouldn’t force Christians to adopt that position. They should be free to articulate their values- including educationally- as they wish.

    But then, part of the reason I’m a libertarian is that I do not believe that the survival of society requires forcing everyone else to be exactly like me. I am delighted to share my social space with people of different viewpoints. Even people who misuse the subjunctive case.

  38. Oh Ian, Ian! Ian, Ian, oh dear…. Verbs have tenses and “moods”…the Subjunctive is a “mood”….one of the grammatical glories of English is that it has got so subtle through the near-abolition of cases for nouns, and the massive extention of the use of verbs through all their tenses (the same number as in Latin or classical _Greek) and moods.

    We even “verbify” nouns. Like the rather awful but effective modern verb, the infinitive of which is “to action” (er, something or other.)

    But I’m still waiting for someone to immortalise the memory of the late Chris Tame by using the verb “to epistemologise” (er, something…) Perhaps I will do it myself in a minute or two.

  39. As an ex-employer I found DJ’s comment: “With so many children leaving school illiterate…” to be sadly true. English, both the written and the spoken word, plus the ability to be able to use deduction as a way of conceptualising something, as well as the ability to perform basic Mathematical tasks, was so often missing in the prospective employee that it was almost impossible for the applicant to be taken on. However, sometimes I decided that if the employee seemed at least willing and able to attempt the job offered I would fund him or her through a basic course in English and or Maths. Sad state of affairs.

  40. Schools should concern themselves on the English – Literature and Grammar, Maths, Physics, Science and Technology.

    • ”’Schools should concern themselves on the English – Literature and Grammar, Maths, Physics, Science and Technology.”

      Don’t forget that oh most dismal science of economics! In my opinion the most important one to learn (austrian obviously)

  41. Children don’t need school. Parents who work routine jobs need school; to babysit. The state needs school; to control / coerce. This piece sounds like the secret dreams of Mr Gove and the Tories, outlining what they would really like to do! Nothing particularly libertarian about most of it, but as a home educator, I appreciate your position in point 4.

  42. Good article to get the brain cells working and trying to define what is or isn’t a Libertarian approach. Still, that’s the nature of the beast.
    Agree with some of dj’s comments ” a free society is based on certain cultural pre-conditions..” In this small island which we all share, the pre-conditions can be traced through nearly two thousand years of Western philosophy,political thought and, no small input from Christianity.
    Ian B I think you underestimate the influence on our understanding of freedom,liberty and even libertarianism from the fusion of all the above.
    Ancient Palestine, an important trade route coveted, fought over,occupied by all the major empires. Each occupation leaving cultural,religious and political legacies.The Greeks left their language and philosophy. The gospel writers and early Christians tackled Greek philosophy;the original gospels were written in Greek not Hebrew, not Aramaic. The Roman empire provided channels for the exportation of a new religion which declared the universality of God; detached from claims of ownership of competing tribes..
    One of the major differences between this and the old Semitic religions was the emphasis on the individual relationship with God;free will,reflection and the development of conscience. Without this I doubt if we would have developed such ideas such as freedom of expression,or thought. A complete contrast with religions which rely on outward conformity to certain prescribed behaviours, dress,diet,times of prayer. What’s going on inside any one’s head or heart is secondary. It’s all to protect the tribe.

    dj’s manifesto; some good ideas. I would like to see schools operating independently from the state and vouchers might be a way to start.Schools and parents should sign a contract so each knows what to expect making it easier to either get rid of the bad ,disruptive ones, and for parents to sue bad schools.Two points raise concerns though. Not making education compulsory.Libertarians can accept that until some one is able to provide for themselves they are powerless. Compulsory education should stay, school or home.But only till fourteen.This is when the main exams can be taken.Those not reaching high academic level can leave. With the re-emphasis on literacy and numeracy they will be in a good position to compete in the unskilled job markets with our European cousins.They will not be able to claim any benefits .A further sifting could be done at sixteen.
    Those not making the grade can either go to work or, depending on ability can apply to F.E. to learn trades;all funded by the private sector which,together with the college can set the entrance criteria. The remainder can prepare for university entrance exams.
    Not sure how we maintain a Christian ethos dj if we allow unregulated home education. Consider those who may use it as an opportunity to indoctrinate against that ethos. If the ethos is important to the future and security of this space we share, then that can’t be allowed.If not important then it doesn’t need to be in the school.I believe it’s important. But how we deal with the growth of any fundamentalism from unfettered home education I don’t know.How would we even make sure the children get an education which,inevitably will lead to total dependence later on, when parents have gone and they can’t read or write their own name.

  43. On point four:
    ..and, thereby, such enforced rules ensure that the poor who cannot afford to send their children to school stay at home and, presumably in most cases, don’t receive the education that others would?

  44. I agree with that JFen. But all economic theory should be taught and debated and opportunity to apply them through real examples, if not ‘live’ examples.

  45. Patricia-

    One of the major differences between this and the old Semitic religions was the emphasis on the individual relationship with God;free will,reflection and the development of conscience. Without this I doubt if we would have developed such ideas such as freedom of expression,or thought.

    I disagree with this analysis. Firstly, referring to earlier parts of your posts, it’s worth reflecting that Christianity didn’t come out of Ancient Palestine- which was an undeveloped backwater of sheep farmers- but was invented in urbanised, civilised areas such as Alexandria. The Jewish religion was a straightforward Semitic tribal religion that developed some delusions of grandeur under Persian influence (saying that the tribal God was also the supreme God of the Universe).

    But the main point is that I’m arguing that anything nominally liberal that ended up in Christianity came from European, rather than Oriental, origins anyway. So it’s hard to credit Christianity with bringing us such concepts, because they were here already and it got them from us. Europeans never worshipped the old Semitic Gods- i.e. the gods of the Levant. You find prototypical liberal, democratic and individualist formations in Europe, not the East; Rome and Greece experimented with Republican and representative forms of governance. The Saxons bequeathed us lot (far to the North West) with the idea of assemblies (the Thing) and governance by consent rather than divine appointment as was popular in the Oriental civilisations. Which, I would argue, is why, as I pointed out, only those forms of Judaic religion that were heavily influenced by pre-existing Western ideals have been able to develop liberal, representative, individualist etc forms. The one that “stayed home”- Islam- is thus the most repressive and backward.

    It really is kind of mystifying how people can believe that a religion based on the idea that God will torture you for eternity if you eat a bacon sandwich can be responsible for liberal ideas. It makes no sense at all.