Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

The news that some commercial operations are to be allowed to issue their own diplomas and degrees has been God's gift to the media since that purveyor of hamburgers to the proletariat, McDonalds, happens to be one of them. They can now trot out that weary and over-used line “D'you want fries with that” for a cheap laugh.
These qualifications that undoubtedly will be of as much value as the burger paper they're printed on will hardly cut much ice with any reputable seat of learning nor employer. But at any rate McDonalds are an efficient, highly organised company from whom much might be gleaned that would be of value in a commercial world.
The same can hardly be said of one of the other companies. A qualification from Network Rail would best be concealed, I feel, for one anxious to further a career in commerce.
As to FlyBe, quite what a future trolley dolly can learn from them I fail to understand.
But it is, of course, wonderful PR for the companies concerned and for G. Brown Esq. whose contribution to education will probably earn him an honorary degree from the Hamburger University.
Why there is so much resistance to teaching the three R's in school (you know, reading, riting and rithmatic) I will never understand. Once you have mastered those, all options are open to you since from then on, if you really want to, there are no barriers.
My cousin, the son of a jobbing builder (and not a very good one at that) was under pressure to join the business. With no more than a council school education, as it was then called, he put himself through university, becoming a famous Harley Street consultant.
Ernest Bevin, virtually self educated, became Foreign Minister.
And Charles Dickens, with no formal education, no, not even a diploma from the shoe blacking factory where he worked, is as fine a writer of the English language as can be found.
Winston Churchill, although benefiting from that now much despised institution, the public school, never achieved a degree, other than honorary one's granted him many years later.
The 'Have Your Say' columns so popular with the media have been full of complaints about this 'dumbing down' of the educational process. It seems that this has been going on for longer than we might suspect since many of the complainants don't seem to know how to spell 'dumb' and a few other hard words.
But let us look forward to the day, which cannot be too far off, when every child born in Britain receives a degree along with his, her or its, birth certificate.
It was Darwin, I believe, who propounded the theory of 'The Survival of the Dumbest.'


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