English Football and Education

Beckham3.jpg

The message needs to get through to young white males that they may indeed become footballers; they may indeed earn gigabucks like Becks – though the chances are of course that they will not. But even if they did, they would be far better off with a smattering of the education of our continental rivals.

We should blow the whistle on football

But what can you do? wailed the man at the end of my harangue. What can you do when the lads just want to be David Beckham?

I knew what he meant. Here we all are, having a collective fit about male underachievement in schools. We spend millions trying to persuade adolescent boys that they should think of themselves as university material. We launch feeble attempts at social engineering by discriminating against the children of university-educated parents; and yet in spite of all our efforts we only have 13.1 per cent of children from low-participation areas who make it to university – compared with 43 per cent across the nation as a whole.

It is not just that they don’t much aspire to go to university; in some cases they think the whole idea is positively sissy, especially since, as my interlocutor put it, “they look at David Beckham, and they see he’s earning tens of thousands a week, and they think, hey, what’s the point of all this education?”


They think they can have Posh and the Porsche and the swish pad in Cheshire; and of course they can’t, or at least they can’t unless they happen to be the one in 10 million who has the gifts of banana-booted demigod.

So then slowly their fantasies dissolve, and they find that their educational opportunities have been frittered away, and they drift on, who knows, to become part of the number one problem facing our country.

They join the great and growing ranks of the excluded white males; the males who are beaten ever more hollow by the girls in exams, the males whose marriage credentials look ever more paltry to the go-ahead girls who now make up 59 per cent of university undergraduates, and no wonder so many males in this group are turning to crime, and no wonder, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday revealed, the gap between rich and poor is growing.

There has been a 40 per cent increase, under this Labour government, in the number of 16- to 18-year-olds who are neither in education, employment or training; and it is these characters who are ever more likely to be associated with violence, thuggery and general incivility.

We have taken away the old ladder of social mobility, the academic selection that used to form a way out for the bright children of poor families, and like Brazilian street children they have nothing but the delusive hope of footballing success – a delusion that is particularly cruel, since it seems to offer the prospect of fantastic personal wealth without any academic qualifications whatever.

It is precisely because so many of our young males have such reverence for football, and identify with footballers, that we need to think anew about the relationship between English football and education, and it is time, as a nation, that we faced a horrendous truth. We just don’t seem to be much good. We weren’t much good in the World Cup, and we have just had an agonising draw against Israel. For all I know, by the time you read this we will have been thrashed by Andorra, and if manager Steve McClaren keeps his current form, we can expect a run of torrid goalless draws against San Marino, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Luxembourg.

It is time, moreover, that we addressed the crisis, and faced the appalling possibility that there is a correlation between our footballing achievements and our general attitudes to education. Of course this is a nation already suspicious of intellectuals, and there is nothing more hilarious and deplorable than a swot on the pitch.

You remember how poor old Graeme Le Saux used to be accused of being gay, just because he sounded vaguely educated. Then think of the educational attainments of Wayne Rooney, or Robbie Fowler, and contrast them with some of the comparative brainboxes from other footballing countries.

One might mention Albert Camus, who in addition to his status as a top French writer and existentialist was an international goalie for Algeria. Then there is the late Pope John Paul II, who presumably employed the hand of God to keep goal for Wadowice.

Even if you exclude Eric Cantona, who claims to be a philosopher because of his oracular remarks about seagulls and sardines, foreign teams are littered with people who could be classed as intellectuals, at least by UK standards.

There was Socrates, the supremely gifted Brazilian midfielder who was also a doctor, and Simen Agdestein, a chess grand master by the age of 18 and former Norwegian international, and Fabio Pecchia, a registered accountant who plays for Bologna, and Slaven Bilic, a lawyer, linguist and former Everton defender.

Is it any wonder that two of England’s most successful teams have been unable to recruit from the pool of former footballers that make up English managerial talent, and gone for Wenger and Mourinho?

Take the smooth-talking effortlessness of Thierry Henry’s English, and contrast it with David Beckham’s attempts to speak Spanish.

Wherever you look in English football, there are fewer foreign linguists, fewer degree holders and fewer bourgeois professionals than in many of the teams that give us such trouble; and that is important, because these footballers are our male children’s heroes, their role models. The message needs to get through to young white males that they may indeed become footballers; they may indeed earn gigabucks like Becks – though the chances are of course that they will not. But even if they did, they would be far better off with a smattering of the education of our continental rivals.

In English football you are called Prof if you have two GCSEs; no wonder we are outwitted on the pitch.

Of course you don’t have to be academically bright to be good at football. But it might just help transform the attitudes of young males to education, if they looked at the foreign example, and saw that being smart – and being rated smart – was no barrier to success in the beautiful game.

If poor Steve McClaren should fail again, I am told that he could be replaced by one Steve Coppell, currently with Reading, who once started an economics degree at Liverpool.

Now there’s a role model. Let’s encourage the academic aspirations of young white males – and let’s stop the tragic mistake of pretending football is a game for dunces.

41 thoughts on “English Football and Education”

  1. In total fairness to this after the way we have been playing recently i don’t belive you actually have to be that good to make it as a footballer anymore.
    You just need to spit a lot swear at everything get drunk and play badly. That’s the key to the so called current footballing elite, maybe after all this education will be more male orientated as i for one don’t wish to be a football player if that’s how they act!!

  2. Best for ages Boris . I was at a Conservative Party meeting the other day and we adjourned for putting the world to right s in a local inn, thus far the world has stubbornly ignored us but I digress. There we were set upon by a vagabond mendicant who span a feeble yarn about needing 50p for this or that reason and despite being sternly ignored tried desperately to make friends . In fact it was a youngish man already looking seedy and with the obligatory tatoos and Hood .
    The next day I remembered how I had felt so embarrassed for his loss of dignity and on the other hand wondered what I could have got him to do for a fiver ….perhaps a monkey routine ?This is where it ends all that swaggering and all that “attitude” begging , abasing yourself in front of the ones you sneered at .
    They are fed this celebrity drug this Hope crack and it is as harmful as any drug there is . The foul labour state has , of course capitalised on this by taxing the poor with gambling with a morality that falls significantly short of Al Capone when he ran the numbers for Chicago. They will be a rapper , or a model , or a a footballer or indeed any of the no effort chav-got -lucky infestations of the television.
    The girls are just as bad if not worse and Boris’s picture if a super achieving soft sex is highly class specific.
    There are a lot of reasons for all of this but the educational system is where to start the process and recently , ignored by the Conservative Party, someone has had a really good idea in Brighton….the Lottery system. Here is the prescription

    1 Setting in Schools
    2 Bann Public schools or at least remove their laughable charitable status
    3 Lotteries on academic streams with wide catchments areas aiming for near national homogeneity of intake
    4 The a voucher scheme to be phased in and flexible pay and output related rewards for teachers

    The problem with schools is not resources they have plenty , it is not systems , any could work , it is teachers and Pupils . Teachers who cannot be judged and Pupils who are herded together into cult of failure ghettos that pull them all down by the postcode acquisition of the better state schools .

    Listen to me Boris I know what I `m talking about , not only did I go to school but I also did not go to Eton so I `m miles ahead of you .

    Bye

    Nice to see Jaq and Jack and Mel.( Mr. Target was the least attractive despite raffish climbing boots )

  3. Boris’s remarks re continental footballers are interesting – yes, they do seem to have more of a brain than ours. I remember also the appallingly ill-informed attitudes to Le Saux (of the ‘funny name, reads the Guardian therefore must be a ponce’ type, despite the fact he’s married with 3 or 4 children).

    But what about simply providing young men with other role models? The list of male high achievers in ALL fields is impressive. We could start with Bill Gates, the world’s richest (or nearly richest) man. He didn’t get his £75,000,000,000-odd fortune by kicking balls around – he used his brain. So did Steve Jobs (Apple-Macs). OK, not everyone can be a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs any more than they can be a Beckham, but there’s still a decent living to be made in IT, IF you buckle down to your schoolwork, especially on the maths/technical side. Then we have the scientists. Where shall we start? Newton. Darwin. Galileo. Einstein. Watson and Crick. James Clerk-Maxwell (included because I don’t think he gets credited often enough, but indirectly he gave us radio, TV and the radar systems which helped us in 1940)… There are so many of these that I’m reduced to picking names out at random.

    What about the entrepreneurs? Let’s dip into the hat once more… let me see. Sir Harold Lever (whose company became Unilever). Alan Sugar. Richard Branson. Not all of the latter were well educated in the academic sense, but then an academic education doesn’t suit everyone, and the likes of Alan Sugar might serve as a reminder that those who really don’t – or can’t – shine at school might still shine elsewhere later. And I think the 3 I’ve mentioned have provided just a few more employment opportunities than Mr Beckham!

    I think I’ve said enough to make the point that there are plenty of male role models outside football and other sports, and that a lot of them have made their mark by using their brains. Perhaps if more were made of these we’d begin to chip away at the appalling anti-intellectual, anti-education and even anti-civilisation peer culture that blights some of our schools.

  4. Football is a game for plebs anyway.
    Did anyone see that programme “Toffs at the Top”? It’s an absolute cheek that Channel 4 can sniff around his Eton / Bullingdon days and make out it’s still relevant.

  5. Gosh. Boris has a point.

    I’ve often wondered about those French footie players. They do come over le plus smarter than yer average Brit export. But then I wouldn’t know how good Beckham’s Spanish is, not having studied it myself until I picked up that ‘Spanish in a Day’ free CD in the Independent on Sunday.

    Meanwhile, I hear Mourinho’s going to be available soon – just in time for McLaren’s sacking, with any luck.

  6. Graham Le Saux was an educated footballer: even read the Guardian.

    re: “Did anyone see that programme “Toffs at the Top”?” (josie)

    Cameron has done a good job of hiding his public-school background: his accent isn’t that posh any more. I hear much worse from public school boys and girls on campus every day.

  7. I do hope this person who keeps banging on about Cameron being a privileged public school boy and being deceitful to the public about his true political leanings isn’t a Blair voter. At least Cameron never pretended to be a socialist.

    Some good points about education there Boris.

  8. Got to disagree here Boz. Playing football seriously doesn’t make people useless, doing absolutely nothing but sit around waiting for the next handout makes people useless.
    People whose retirement plan features ‘winning the lottery’ or ‘getting some compo’ are far worse than those who kick a ball round a bit & have the occaisional dream.
    A benefits system which makes people poorer if they work hard must be one of my key suspects for discouraging aspiration.

  9. I think what Boris is touching on is the sense of entitlement that young people have today. They grow up with luxuries and comforts that were the preserve of the rich a few years back, and live their lives through celebrities who don’t talk or act that much differently to themselves. It’s understandable then that they assume any failure to have their expectations rewarded is a travesty of justice.

    The result is envy and bitterness, and a resentment of other people’s success. Combined with the state-sponsored message that men should be less competitive and assertive, they feel alienated and irrelevant. They climb off the ladder of social mobility and allow the mindset of low expectations to become part of their identity. It’s all very sad.

  10. A major part of the problem we’re having educating boys is the syllabus. I see what my mates’ kids are given to teach them to read and it’s a book about a disabled girl learning to make (vegetarian!) pizza, a book about a couple of Indian boys learning to share. The education system seems more keen on shoving little PC lessons down kids’ throats than making them want to read. God forbid little boys should be allowed to read about anything little boys find interesting. When they get home, books already have to compete with video games, hundreds of sky channels, DVDs of the latest computer animated blockbusters – and they associate reading with their eyes glazing over with boredom.

  11. Why does it say only for “young white males” in the article abstract? What about blacks, asians, etc?

  12. eazy: the young white males are the ones who culturally identify most with thick football players.

    And Asian boys (or at least Indian and Chinese ones) outperform white boys by a long way.

  13. All well and good, Boris, but how do you even begin to tackle this one? Make players sit an exam? Drag ’em out of the nuroscience labs at Oxford and Cambridge and herd them onto the playing fields?

    Football has become the flagship of Dumb Britain, alongside Big Brother, the Daily Star and a good many TV channels. It is synonymous with yobbery, tat, mindless consumerism, alcohol abuse, greed, worship of false idols, and communication by cliche and grunt. It would take a great deal more than a couple of new players with an A level to redeem the wretched game.

    “Foo’eee” in Britain has become so endemically low-culture and anti-intellectual that the silly, grasping Mrs Beckham is the one nicknamed Posh! Anyone with higher aspirations knows they are going to feel like a fish out of water in the company of such folk. Going by the diversity of backgrounds of foreign players, it seems that chavdom has yet to take a stranglehold on the game elsewhere.

    Curiously, it’s Britain that is most obsessed with equality of opportunity, which has come to mean equality of achievement. But, as always, these moral ideals forced on us from on high tend to backfire in a way no-one expected. If you’re a ManU fan who’s not quite up to it as a First Division player, there is an easy way to become one. Simply fork out £45 for the shirt, £18 for the shorts, (another £18 for the away shorts), £40 for the training jersey, £25 for the leisure shirt, £9 for home socks, (another £9 if you’re a goalie), and £40 for the wristband watch if you’re that keen. There you are: We’re all equal now.

    Take the smooth-talking effortlessness of Thierry Henry’s English, and contrast it with David Beckham’s attempts to speak Spanish [Boris]. I think you meant English. How tactful of you.

  14. I’m not sure there is anything in this argument.
    The kind of boys telling the career guidence counseller to put celebrity footballer at the top of their list of options isn’t going to be a brainbox.

    I bright boy would weigh up the odds. A bright boy would have interests other than football.

    A bright boy would have received encouragement in one way or the other for a range of things at school rather than just for kicking the footie.

    The sorts of boys Boris seems to be talking about need a great trade or a business that they can throw their energies into. Not everyone has to be university material.

  15. Certainly the kids no longer see education as the way out of poverty, unfortunately they’re right. While footballers may be their aspirational dream, drug dealers are their urban role models. It’s akin to ‘pimp’ becoming a compliment in 1960s Harlem, the pimps and pushers were the only black males in the immediate environment with money. Of course, the creation of sink estates and sink secondary schools, combined with unemployment and a low paid service economy, as opposed to skilled labour, has nothing whatsoever to do with the problem. But who ever needed relevant education? Those from public school who ran the Empire were trained in those essential skills Latin and Greek. Perhaps if we both educated and trained all with no thought of tailoring everything to ‘vocational’ (since that word now seems to mean ‘getting a job’) expectancies, we might do better. If media didn’t give such mixed messages it might just help. If teachers are to be rewarded for results, I would advise anyone in a sink secondary or deprived primary to leave the profession immediately. Perhaps those who advocate such a policy would like to try doing the job in Peckham rather than Tunbridge Wells. But there may be another way. Perhaps we should base all male working-class and underclass education on football. There’s a lot of spatial geometry in the spin and trajectory of that ball, vast amounts of botany in pitch maintenance, complex design in attire, practical skills to be gleaned from constructing nets and goalposts etc etc … that way we may both increase learning outcomes and get better footballers. And if we can convince them they stand a good chance of playing abroad, they’ll all be studying foreign languages. The Soviet educator Makharenko advocated theory followed by direct practical work, he achieved remarkable results with kids from streetgangs in the middle of a violent revolution. Kropotkin describes a similar approach at a Tsarist military academy, and states that it was the most rapid learning he ever underwent. There are ways, but it requires the political will to adopt them.

  16. Well I’m not sure much has changed with the boys since I was at school. All the lads in primary school either wanted to be professional footballers or astronauts. They didn’t want to be David Beckham, they wanted to be Gary Lineker, so what’s changed exactly? By high school most of them didn’t actually know what they wanted to be – I didn’t either.

    If anything it’s the girls that have changed. When I was in primary school all the girls wanted to be nurses, of course the teachers did their best to persuade them otherwise. Girls grow up faster than boys, and probably make better career choices during their teenage years because they actually bother to listen to people. Whilst many of the girls trumped off to university with carefully considered career goals, most of the boys simply wanted to lose their virginity, get drunk a lot and escape their nagging Mothers.

    Of course the girls had been getting drunk since the age of 14 thanks to make-up and the fact most pub-doormen have a thing for blonde teenagers in hot-pants. They also found it a lot easier to lose their virginity, there were any number of twenty-something boy-racers hanging around the school gates every night in their RS turbo’s, waiting to pick them up and whisk them off for a quicky. In fact any guy who had lost his virginity before leaving sixth form had almost invariably done so with the help of an underage girl from year 10.

    Unlike his female classmates the fifteen year old male can’t get into the pub on a Friday night and can’t get laid with someone his own age. By then he’s probably realised he can’t bend it like Beckham and hasn’t got much chance of going to the moon either. Scoring straight A’s at GCSE isn’t going to improve matters in the immediate future, if anything he’ll just get beaten up for being a swot. On the other hand dragging some nonce of a boy-racer out of his motor after school and giving him a good kicking, or being able to get your hands on some quality skunk-weed, is going to improve your street-cred, and your chances of getting laid, no end.

    Being more mature, not having to worry about getting kicked-in, and getting plenty of attention from older members of the opposite sex (who tend to have jobs, cars and buy her drinks at the weekend), the female comprehensive student is more able to cope with balancing the need to get a good education with being young, rebelious and having fun than her male counterparts.

    Personally I was never into football, so never did look at Gary Lineker and say to myself ‘Whats the point of all this education?’ I used to watch Roger Cook interview some sheister with a Porsche 911, who couldn’t be prosecuted for one reason or another, and think exactly the same thing.

  17. “I do hope this person who keeps banging on about Cameron being a privileged public school boy and being deceitful to the public about his true political leanings isn’t a Blair voter. At least Cameron never pretended to be a socialist.”(Kevin T)
    Blair never did anything remotely as snobbish as the Bullingdon (or if he did we never found out about it).

    It wasn’t exactly Cameron’s / Boris’s finest hour.

  18. So true Boris. As a one time teacher, I lost count of the exchanges I had with nasty little chavs whose response to arguments about why they should try hard at school was often along the lines of, ‘But I don’t need no education because I’m gonna be a footballer,’ or something semantically equivalent. I was even told by their female counterparts that learning was unnecessary because, ‘I’m going to have a baby, get a council flat and live on the ‘Nash’ like me Ma.’

    The problem however, is not just ‘teachers and pupils’ as one of your contributors put it; nor is it systems of education. It is society at large. What we see in the horrors of chav television, is the world we have created here in Britain over the last forty years. It will be a hard thing to turn it around. Simple fixes will not do, though the infestation of Labour MPs in our cities would be a good place to start.

  19. I think Camus played goalkeeper for the Algiers university team, not for Algeria as a whole…

  20. While we’re on sport, as an Eton / Oxbridge man, does Boris have any insider tips on the boat race result?

  21. Slightly off topic here, Boris, but I thought we were friends. The route from London to Portsmouth takes you within a Tebbit’s scowl of my house in north east Hampshire, and yet you thought it necessary to go all the way to the coast to find a place “too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”. We in North East Hampshire are proud of our obesity and underachievement. We could probably rustle up a few joints and a tab of acid for you should it be really essential. No Labour MPs, alas, but we could sit in my garden and sing the Internationale.
    I am very hurt, unless these allegations on Sky news are false or a belated April Fool jape.

  22. —“eazy: the young white males are the ones who culturally identify most with thick football players.”—-

    Whilst the South Asians identify with thick cricket players!

    And the chavs today should take after the Conservative party, which never in its history has been known to criticize intellectuals or suggest that making money was more important than academic prowess, and whose great leaders Thatcher and Tebbit, showed a Socratic attitude towards wisdom and a Ghandian contempt for the nouveau riche.

  23. Human beings are flexible and there are lots of examples of cultures changing over time but isn’t it also possible that this is de-evolution in action?

    Why couldn’t this be the result of chavish parents raising large numbers of chavish children until patterns of reproduction become noticeable, culturally significant and self perpetuating?

    In which case surely there isn’t a thing Boris or anyone else can do about it.

    We are now conditioned to focus much more on nurture–which politicians can control to a degree, rather than nature which resists interventions.

    However, the asbo policy among others demonstrates just how resistant people can be when it comes to government interventions. When intervention after intervention fails to make a difference isn’t this a sign that we are failing to conceptualize the problem correctly and that we are being swayed by an ideology which doesn’t reflect reality?

  24. Well said, Boris. We do indeed need more than beautiful people in the beautiful game, we need educashun and good role models!

  25. Our politicians could do with a little more educashun too, Boris. I believe you should be put in charge of that. Their first lesson should be:

    Tell the truth and hands off Boris!

    All of you rotten to core politicians (i.e. most of you) should look to Boris as your shining role model.

  26. This is one of those rare times when I’ve got to disagree with Boris – and some of the comments here are pathetic. Like the guy saying Football is responsible for the dumbing down of Britain along with the Daily Star and Reality TV. Give me a break! Just because you were rubbish at football as a kid, don’t take it out on the thousands of professional athletes who play the game in this country, and the thousands of children being part of a team on Sunday mornings, learning more about team-work, responsibility and effort than most of you guys here have had in your life times.

  27. Well said Mr. Johnson, MP. Football (a fine game, to be sure) is given far too much significance in British culture. You just can’t it across to Brit kids that in the unlikely event they don’t make it as big as Beckham, wouldn’t it be good insurance to pick up a few qualifications, just in case. Playing on a football team, however lowly, is far better that being simply a fan; cheaper too. So sad to get your thrills secondhand.

  28. Chase The Dream – There can be neither doubt nor understating the debacle our country finds itself in, and I for one can associate such disconcerting mentality with those who risk debt and prescription money to purchase lottery tickets. It is by no means a dishonourable pursuit to fantasise or aspire to be a professional footballer. As there is no shame in imagining what one would do with all that money that comes with a lottery windfall. However the stark truth is that the probabilities are against you, no matter how much you want it, regardless of how hard you train or how many times you play. By all means try and try your utmost, but exercise a little common sense and acknowledge the reality that it is only good practise to have a back up if things don’t work out, or a serious knee injury cuts short a promising fledgling career at a top flight team. Go to school, go to university and the qualifications will be with you for life. Chase The Dream – Be the next David Beckham, Lord knows we need one, but for every David Beckham there are 5 million who you will just never hear of because they never made it. So do the math, and to do that I’m afraid you will need to go to school!

  29. A little harsh Boris. Robbie Fowler happens to have used his income intelligently and become one of the richest sportsmen despite having suffered a major downturn in his career at his ‘peak’.

    Perhaps requests that YTS/Youth teams for clubs offer education and training incase the players don’t end up making it, but you will find that the dedicated atheletes who play for these clubs also often have a strong desire not to drink/take drugs/lead a dodgy life as it may put their football career in jeopardy. This may not amount to an education but it should instil habits that are positive for society.

    A key component of all this is that we should be providing a framework that makes it easy for people to move through the social ranks. We need to work towards a society where your parent’s wealth does not dictate how far you can go in life, rather your desire/committment does. It has nothing to do with football, which has an overall positive outcome (exercise/healthy lifestyle/dedication/committment/team work/self discipline etc.), and everything to do with inspiring individuals to live the life that makes them happy, rather than simply pushing them to do a job “because it pays well”. Happiness can’t be bought, it is earnt.

  30. While listing intelligent footballers, I must point out that Boris missed Northampton Town’s Kenny Deucher, who is a Doctor! Quite how he could have neglected this I’ll never know…

  31. I’m getting a bit fed up of reading through these discussions and being interrupted by the Bullingdon paranoia. Can the following be the final word on Bullingdon?
    Fair enough, the Bullingdon Club was not normal student traffic-cone hi jinx. A group of public-schoolboys smashed up a pub then gave the landlord lots of daddy’s money. Perhaps the landlord was happy with the money, but they might have smashed things that couldn’t be replaced, so there might have been a cultural loss to the nation. You might even say it was reminiscent of the behaviour of the German university “freikorps”: right-wing fraternities of the 1930s.
    Now can we just leave it at that?

  32. When I read Boris’s “Blow the whistle on boys’ obsession with football” I thought: “Hallelujah! At last, someone is starting to put the problems of young males centre-stage.
    Unfortunately, if your education system is as gynocratic as ours here in New South Wales then you have a long and hard road ahead of you.
    As the only remaining Head of a Languages faculty in a government boys’ high school in this State, I have a daily struggle to keep boys interested in studying foreign languages. In my opinion, it is not entirely coincidental that the area of the curriculum most dominated by women is also that area of the curriculum least likely to be studied by boys. Yet, if boys should be made to study any subject, it should be a foreign language. How often do we hear women berating their menfolk for being uncommunicative: “My husband/son/brother/boyfriend/dad won’t talk/listen to me!”? Why do these same women do nothing about the absence of boys from the foreign language classroom? It is almost as if women have decided to punish boys for the perceived sins of the forefathers. Having gained control of our schools women now ignore the manifold problems of young males and concentrate solely on pushing a feminist agenda. Is it entirely coincidental that the bottom schools in the league tables are largely boys’ schools? I think not.
    There is also the wider problem of the deification of the footballer. How can any sane society tolerate a situation whereby a footballer is paid more money per day than a nurse or teacher is paid in a year? No wonder Britain is leading the race to the bottom. I have also heard that the study of ancient history in British secondary schools is about to become just that. Are you vying with Australia and the U.S. for the position of the Global Village’s resident idiot? If so, your young males have a head start.

  33. When I read Boris’s “Blow the whistle on boys’ obsession with football” I thought: “Hallelujah! At last, someone is starting to put the problems of young males centre-stage.”
    Unfortunately, if your education system is as gynocratic as ours here in New South Wales then you have a long and hard road ahead of you.
    As the only remaining Head of a Languages faculty in a government boys’ high school in this State, I have a daily struggle to keep boys interested in studying foreign languages. In my opinion, it is not entirely coincidental that the area of the curriculum most dominated by women is also that area of the curriculum least likely to be studied by boys. Yet, if boys should be made to study any subject, it should be a foreign language. How often do we hear women berating their menfolk for being uncommunicative: “My husband/son/brother/boyfriend/dad won’t talk/listen to me!”? Why do these same women do nothing about the absence of boys from the foreign language classroom? It is almost as if women have decided to punish boys for the perceived sins of the forefathers. Having gained control of our schools women now ignore the manifold problems of young males and concentrate solely on pushing a feminist agenda. Is it entirely coincidental that the bottom schools in the league tables are largely boys’ schools? I think not.
    There is also the wider problem of the deification of the footballer. How can any sane society tolerate a situation whereby a footballer is paid more money per day than a nurse or teacher is paid in a year? No wonder Britain is leading the race to the bottom. I have also heard that the study of ancient history in British secondary schools is about to become just that. Are you vying with Australia and the U.S. for the position of the Global Village’s resident idiot? If so, your young males have a head start.

  34. A BBC report stated that the young in African/Carribean communities apparently consider carrying out gang crime, and being a victim of it, to be akin to a rite of passage to manhood.

    In countries like Thailand and Burma, a period spent as a monk is a rite of passage to manhood. In countries such as South Korea, a period spent in the army is considered a vital rite of passage.

    But on the streets of Hackney, Elephant and Castle and Shoreditch?

    Source: Guardian, Out on the street, C.Johnson, Comments

  35. Our book ‘EDUCATION MAKE YOU FICK, INNIT? WHAT’S GONE WRONG IN ENGLAND’S SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES AND HOW TO START PUTTING IT RIGHT’
    explains all this in rather more depth than Uncle Boris.

    The book connects teachers and students in schools, colleges and universities to ask what has happened to education in a mass system of lifelong learning from primary to postgraduate schooling. It explains how allegations of ‘dumbing down’ and deskilling contrast with claims of rising standards for a world class workforce, showing how education has become a main means of social control in an increasingly divided and self-destructive society. Rather than emancipating the minds of future generations, it forecloses their possibilities. In this sense, Education Make You Fick, Innit?

    We argue that to understand how this occurred and what can be done about it the system has to be understood as a whole. What is happening in schools makes sense only in relation to similar systems of management and control in FE and HE where privatisation in particular is in many ways more advanced. We detail successive perversions of the comprehensive ideal for schools to the latest ‘personalisation’ agenda that stretches across the new raised leaving age of 18, showing how competition and control combine to set institutions and individuals against one another in a market for inflated qualifications. We reject the relentless testing and selection of students in prolonged training that still does not guarantee employment.

    From our experience of teaching and researching in schools, FE and HE, we call for democratic control to reverse privatisation and maintain free provision so as to remain true to the Enlightenment ideal of understanding society in order to change it.

    Outline contents: The big picture – education and economy, What was ever right with English education? 1944 and all that; Making it worse – Education and the Conservative offensive; Making it even worse – New Labour’s new ideas; Not a learning but a certified society; Putting it back together – reforming education for the 21st century.

    Martin Allen is a teacher at Alperton Community School in London. Patrick Ainley is Professor of Training and Education at the University of Greenwich.

    ‘Education Make You Fick, Innit? What’s gone wrong in England’s schools, colleges and universities and how to start putting it right’ by Martin Allen and Patrick Ainley UK £10.95 USA $19.95 ISBN 1872767672
    Publication date 20 March 2007
    available from bookshops, Amazon and on order from The Tufnell Press, 47 Dalmeny Rd., London N7 0DY, 0207 272 4861

    If you would like to join a discussion about the ideas raised in this book or related matters please go to http://radicaled.wordpress.com/radicaled-home-page/

  36. Boris, on my myspace i have you spear tackle against Germany. More of that in english football would be great!!! I am a footballer, a football fan and an academic. I achieved ten GCSEs at B and above (i was a bit annoyed at my Bs in history and french)and yet by the end of this weekend i will have played football three times with three different teams whilst only doing one piece of academic research. I had trials at Charlton as well. My aspirations for professional football were over when i was 12, i chose my education over that and i am happy with that decision. I don’t believe i am the only acasdemic who has done so. Who knows, if more academics had concentrated on football what we would have won? I don’t truly believe i would have made the grade but that’s not due to my education, that’s due to ability!!!

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