17 Feb

Certainty and ignorance

Statue of John Knox

Although I write about and am engaged with politics these days, I haven’t always held much in the way of political opinions.  The impetus for beginning an interest in it came from one conversation too many in which I was left silent with no opinion to give.  As it seemed to me – and which I now know to be naïve – the people whose opinions I heard tended to carry their views with a certainty and conviction I rarely had about anything.  Not knowing the details of political circumstances, I concluded these people were better informed than I was, so I generally felt no reason to interject or disagree with them.

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24 Jun

Nationalism and prejudice

Nationalism

Speck of Sand

Above our nations’ selfish thoughts
There hangs a ceiling black and bright
A hundred million sparkling spots
Nature’s gifted humbling sight

Lost in blindness goes its grace
Its twinkling beauty left unseen
Through blood and tears we hide our face
And daily make our hands unclean

Only some can hear its voice
To stop the silent howls of hurt
And realise that we have a choice
In drawing lines with sticks in dirt

All this strife for wanted land
From humans’ greed and goodness’ lack
All to claim a speck of sand
Adrift amidst the ocean black

When a person studies history, they do so with a careful attention given to themes. The past teaches us about the present and about ourselves; it can show us to what degree our behaviour exists as a product of our culture and to what degree it exists independent of it. Through a thematic lens there is much to be discovered, but one theme in particular I am interested in is that of nationalism, and prejudice.

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21 Dec

Social apathy

Social apathy

Social apathy seems to have stricken developed countries. I don’t see it fit for me to criticise what others should be interested in, but if there’s something that, as a society, we should all collectively be interested in, it’s how our society is governed. This is a subject that ought to appeal to all people – from the selfless who care for those around them, to the selfish who care for themselves. From the two opposite ends of the spectrum, both Russell and Rand were interested in government, and so should all of us be. If we aren’t, we actively hand the reins to those who are, who will always use that power for the securement of their own interests – including preventing us from taking those reins back.

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09 Dec

The future of education

Education

To those with it, it can seem the most valuable thing in the world, but to those without it, it can often seem completely unnecessary.  I’m writing about education.  Currently in Britain, statistics record that only 50-60% of students achieve the 5 A*-C grades deemed necessary for continued education or basic employment outside of apprenticeships.1  Is it me, or is this statistic diabolical?  How is it that over 40% of all children leaving secondary schools are deemed unfit for basic employment or continued academic achievement – and this in the nation supposedly ranked 6th2 in the world for its quality of education?

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  1. The latest figures available were published October 2012 by the Department of Education:

    58.6 per cent achieved 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs or iGCSEs, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from 2010/11 (Table 1a, Chart 1).

    See DfE: GCSE and Equivalent Results (Provisional) and National Curriculum Teacher Assessments at Key Stage 3 in England, 2011/12, available here

  2. According to the recent study by the Pearson education firm, as reported by the BBC on 27 November 2012.