This is going to take some unpacking, but let’s start with the pull quote:
“Socially and emotionally capable people are more productive, better educated, tax-paying citizens helping our nation to compete in the global economy, and make fewer demands on public expenditure”
Graham Allen MP and report author
You know what, I have no quarrel with the essential truth of this: fair enough, it’s a psychotic method of treating your population, as production units in the global economy, but it’s all true.
The problem I have is this: what evidence do we have that the current state education system produces “socially and emotionally capable people”?
A revolting phrase in this debate has surfaced, referring to placing 4 year olds in formal classrooms: “insufficiently institutionalised”.
Presumably, then, the aim of school (and under this proposal, pre-school), is to produce young adults who are “sufficiently institutionalised”.
Dependent. Biddable. Knowing their place.
In fact, almost exactly the opposite of “Socially and emotionally capable people.”
This crop of politicians seems to be suffering from the same delusion as the last lot as regards school: “School is not working. The answer is more school.”
Personally, I don’t think institutionalisation is an inevitable consequence of schooling, but it is an emergent property, a tendency that should, in a just world, be guarded against.
Instead, it seems to be being embraced by the very people that are extolling its opposite in a bid to extend school from the moment of conception, if not before.
I am proud of raising children who are insufficiently institutionalised: if there is one glaring problem with my own life, it is that I am sufficiently institutionalised, and insufficiently socially and emotionally capable.
I went to a selective grammar school and was the first member of my family to gain a university degree.