Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to improve Britain

So, I'm reading the News Review from the Times, which isn't really a review of the news so much as a set of regular columns where clever, funny people say clever, funny things about topics that are slightly relevant to something clever, funny people are currently talking about. I usually read it for Jeremy Clarkson, because while I don't always agree with that he says, I do find him bloody entertaining, and rather clever.

He mentioned the Government's new plan to make cookery classes compulsory for all schoolchildren. It's about damn time, because when I was at secondary school, we had one 'Food Technology' lesson a fortnight. It was for an hour. Maybe once every five or six weeks we had a 'practical' lesson--however practical you can be when you've an hour to prepare, cook and clean up after yourself (and it was always made clear to me that the cleaning up was WAY more important than the cooking). The rest were spent talking bollocks about how to add more fibre to an apple pie recipe, or being miseducated about vegetarianism (although that was kind of fun, if only to see the look on her face when I said that I'd been vegetarian for something like seven or eight years, and clearly knew way more about it than she did).

Anyway. Clarkson also reckons that children should be taught other practical skills, like how to fix your sink, or at least how to speak Polish so you can communicate with the guy you're paying to do it. I think these are both much more useful than algebra or Thomas Hardy (if I ever meet Doctor Who, the first thing I'd do is go back 150 years and stamp on Thomas Hardy's fingers before he ever learned to pick up a pen. Actually, that's a lie. The first thing I'd do with the Doctor is shag him).

I reckon a useful thing would be to scrap maths lessons once kids have learned how to add, subtract, divide and multiply. Instead, use the time to teach them how to fill out a tax return. That's a practical application of maths, isn't it? Or maybe they could use it to cook a complicated meal, with different foods being cooked for different times at different temperatures. God knows I'd have appreciated that, instead of all the algebra bollocks which I still find completely useless.

On another page of the Review is a collection of various ideas from various notable bods on how to improve Britain. Nicolas Sarkozy apparently has 300 ideas on how to improve France (must not comment on how it needs more than 300...must not...oh, dammit). These people were asked for one each. Some were very sensible, like Jilly Cooper calling for harsher punishments on people who are cruel to animals (a fine? Fuck off. Kick, burn and starve them, see how they like it). Rory Bremner thinks a national service of community projects is a good idea (I reckon every teenager should be forced to work in a shop, cafe or airport, so that when they're older and richer, they might have some empathy for the person getting paid minimum wage to be shouted at all day). Grayson Perry would ban chewing gum. Bob Geldof would tow the country 300 miles south to a more tropical climate (but if we just contradicted your advice, Saint Bob, global warming would do it all for us).

Myself, I'm wondering why the Government hasn't hit upon the idea of taxing fat people. Pretty much every day we're told how we're all going to die of obesity, perhaps expanding like Violet Beauregarde, or perhaps just crushing our own bones and organs under layers and layers of fat. Either way, the Government's usual approach to something it considers bad for us, or the environment, is to tax the hell out of it. This, of course, has never stopped anyone drinking, smoking, or driving a car, but it might cause a bit of guilt, and it certainly raises lots of money that they can then spend on failing to teach children anything useful. So why, I've often wondered, don't they tax high-fat foods? And clothes for fat people. They could even use the money to subsidise the production of healthy foods, or gym memberships, or even medical care for people whose obesity isn't caused by too many pies--but that, of course, would just be ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Go Girl...I agree with a ton of those thoughts...but I think the parents have a lot to do with it too. My mother taught me the basics...and expected school to teach me the fundamentals like math, grammar, etc. Not that I really learned ANY of it in school...which is rather scary.

    All I can say is yes..I agree, but also think...more parents need to step up to the responsibility plate and do their jobs, cause I see so many out there lacking compared to the few who extend themselves to make sure they're bringing up responsible kids.

    But then again... I do try to interact with the more responsible ones :)