Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The myths that learning History allows you to ignore


So I thought I'd go over a few of the blog's greatest hits. We're nearly eighteen months old now, and almost every month sees an increase of traffic to the site, so a retrospective might be in order. Also, I'm busy, and like sports channel highlights, this is a decent way of looking at our dominant questions without a whole new topic in play...

Consider all the lies you'd half-believe, or half-absorb, if you didn't read as widely as you do - and that this blog, among many others, helps debunk. Let's take a tour, shall we?

Immigration is high and has been rising. Or, in fact: we need lots more students, and lots more skilled workers, and the Coalition is trying to slam the door on them even as we need their energy and ideas to fire economic growth anew. Fact: immigration has been falling since 2007, though with a break in 2010, and that's a figure that looks even bigger in net terms, or as a proportion of the population living in the UK. Here's my view from back in January.

Quasi-markets are efficient. Well, debate rages about this, and I'm not of an expert to decide on it. But suffice to say that managed markets within the public sector, created to engender and entrench 'consumer choice', are a mixed blessing. They lead to game-playing, inefficient and bureaucratic regulation, and highly suspect competitive results. The verdict on this one: unproven. Here's what I said on this back in February.

Universities have got too big: too many people go to into Higher Education. Excuse me? When many other OECD countries (Canada, Norway, Japan, the US, Korea) send more, not less people, to University? When a numbers cap is on so tight that perhaps fifteen to twenty per cent of all applicants - some with very good A-Levels - won't get a place? Pur-lease. I dealt with this all the way back in December 2010, and nothing has changed since.

We need to crack down on crime. Hmm. Well, this one's rubbish as well. In fact, crime has now been falling (and falling) for nearly twenty years (above). And launching 'tough' initiatives has been proven, time and again, actually to hamper the police's ability to understand and to react to community change happening all around them. Think again.

Want me to go on? All right then, I will. But maybe not today.

History? As one 12-year old put it (and as reported in an official document on teaching history in schools), 'it stops people believing rubbish'.

Who could put it better than that?

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