Education

Danfox Davies : School's Out: A Transhuman Education

In the film trilogy of The Matrix, knowledge was downloaded straight from the files the Zion people had obtained, via a hefty and creepy jack plug and somehow into the brain. “I know Kung Fu,” said Neo, a few seconds after he had not the faintest clue about it. Whilst the methods and scenarios in The Matrix are as heavily stylised and wide of the mark as Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine concepts were from working heaver-than-air craft, they nevertheless represent what for all intents and purposes could be a viable general idea for the fast assimilation of information into the brain: that obtained by careful union of (for example but not limiting this to) genetic engineering and preparation, nanobots and Big Data.

Be the change you want to see

David Elston's picture

Back in 2008 I worked for Swansea University in a department called DACE – Department of Adults Continuing Education. I lost this job. Government cuts saw to it that this department was closed. It was my first job, I was a website design assistant. It seemed such a huge injustice to work so long and hard in academia, from the age of 5 until 21 and graduate only to lose my first job in a matter of weeks. To add pressure, my son had just been born, so I had to find alternative employment quickly.


I remember feeling shocked but not just because my job was cut. The University lost many highly qualified and experienced staff, some holding PhDs, experienced lecturers and other valued support staff. There was the knock-on effect of the community centres in places like the Rhondda who leaned on Swansea's DACE for support, were now also going to suffer.


The Mutual Mentoring Project (MMP)

We would like to see trial programmes across the UK in which young people are paired with older people and provided with an opportunity to start a business with state support through the provision of space, legal advice and accountancy, preferably in a startup incubator-like space. This would give both young people the opportunity to start a business and work with people who have long term experience, and would support older people who want to start a business but don't have the up-to-date skills required.

End age discrimination in the benefits system 

At present people under 25 receive a lower level of Job Seekers Allowance and people under 35 receive a lower level of housing benefit than older people. Both of these examples of age discrimination should be removed from the benefits system. Everyone who is no longer in full time education and has not yet reached retirement age should be treated equally.

An evidence based approach to alcohol education

Our current alcohol education methods create the negative response to drinking alcohol. An evidence based approach to educating young people about alcohol and the impact it would both improve education and make it more likely for those who find that alcohol has a negative impact on their lives to seek help.

'Set up a business' experience

We will trial a programme where 16-year-olds are encouraged to set up a small business as part of a work experience programme during or at the end of their final year of school. The programme would aim to actually establish viable businesses and provide the skills and experience required to run a small business.

Reduce the school leaving age

We will investigate making education after the age of 14 voluntary. An initial trial where any 14-year-old who can pass a GCSE in Maths and English should be permitted to pursue a job or apprenticeship offer, with the option of returning to school if they lose their placement or would prefer to return to education.

This would allow young people who want to start working early or specialise as apprentices to remove themselves from classes, freeing up time and resources for those who would prefer to continue in education.  

Let all schools access a national media library

The BBC, National Archives and other appropriate groups should be asked to establish a national media library for educational establishments. A large catalogue of material for students and teachers to make use of would diversify and increase the quality of media material available in education and would save money by centralising administration and technical costs.

Invest in teachers

Schools should have the freedom to spend their budgets as they see fit and should be encouraged to invest in knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well qualified teachers. Over the last decade we have seen vast sums wasted on expensive school IT systems, often with maintenance, software licensing and other excessive or unnecessary costs attached. To make matters worse, schools are often locked into these costly systems for long periods, reducing schools' abilities to adapt to new technology and provide the best education to their students.

Lifetime access to education 

The best time to learn is in the earliest years, but for many people life events can mean that they miss out on education, or due to personal issues they may be incapable of taking full advantage of the education available to them up to the age of 18. We are committed to providing easy access to both basic education and higher education for all; we believe that the UK can build on the excellent foundations already laid by the Open University. University tuition fees should be frozen and eventually scrapped.

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