Shortly after I was first married, my wife and i invited her old school friend Marcia to stay for a weekend, with her husband and small son. The lad was at the crawling stage, and his toys were spread all over the floor. When he’d gone to bed we began tidying up, but the husband stopped us – it was important for the child’s development that he found his toys in the same place next morning. Why did we put up with this all weekend? Because this guy was training to be an educational psychologist.
That was more than fifty years ago and it seems to me that for half a century we have been suffering the consequences of all this nerdy influence. Disruptive classrooms, the best held back for the sake of the least able, syllabuses which propel students through the system without the basic literacy and numeracy. Now I read in the paper that a survey has shown Britain to be the only country in the developed world where grandparents have been found to match or outperform their grandchildren in basic skills. What an indictment of our educational establishment.
We lost touch with Marcia and her family in later years, but I heard that her husband had a nervous breakdown and then retrained as a forester. Perhaps a pity for our society that he and his kind didn’t choose to study trees from the outset.