One of the factors which leads people to oppose free schools is the idea that they take away control of education from the professionals and hand it over to mere amateurs. The underlying idea here is that a professional university qualification is needed before anyone can be allowed to get involved in anything really important.
This cult of the professional, a kind of secular clericalism, has quite literally blighted the landscape of Britain in the last fifty years. It took university qualifications for planning officers to approve the ugly, utilitarian buildings that have blighted our town centres. And it is the legions of well qualified but tragically misguided administrators and teachers who have likewise blighted the lives of generations of children in recent decades. Without a thorough programme of indoctrination at university level, there might have been some danger of common sense breaking through. There might have been some danger of planning officers refusing to knock down beautiful but ‘obsolete’ buildings and replace them with lumps of grey concrete.
At university, because of the dominance of anti-traditional materialism, undergraduates in the arts and humanities are taught to scorn their heritage, not to honour it. All those wonderful writers and artists of the past were nasty sexist, racist bigots. We know so much better than them nowadays. This modernist arrogance traps students in a bubble of self-congratulatory ignorance, and enables them to believe that a brutal glass and steel phallus really is superior to a Greek temple or a Gothic cathedral, or that staring at a computer screen really will be better for a child’s intellectual development than listening attentively to a knowledgeable teacher.
Of course, in the sciences it is impossible to abandon a dependence on tradition. You must stand on the shoulders of giants. That’s why it has been particularly important for science undergraduates to be thoroughly indoctrinated in anti-knowledge ways before they are let loose on school children. Heaven forbid that they use their knowledge and their common sense, and actually start teaching children something.
In order to protect their dominance, university educated professionals have created their own language in many domains, including education, a language which is impenetrable and so gives the impression of profundity. It is the trick of gnostic religion: cloaking claptrap in the grandeur of hidden mysteries. Nowhere is it better exemplified than in performance descriptors, the mysteries of which can only be unlocked by those who have been initiated into the exam board’s inner circle.
Let no one think that I believe teachers should not be trained to the highest level. But here as elsewhere in the education system, some creative destruction is needed before we can rebuild on more rational lines. When the intellectual world is gripped by insanity, mere amateurs need to be allowed to make more of a contribution. And working with these mere amateurs will be some heretics from within the sect . . .