Eureka Thoughts in Spital Bülach hospital in Zurich

BEWARE power-grabbing politicians and well-intentioned political zealots failing to do their homework first. The Shamateurs!

 In my last post I explained how I came to have four days thinking time waiting for an intravenous anti-biotic drip do its job and allow me to return to the UK after a joyful time at the Lucerne Music Festival.

One thought leads to others. The thought – It is amazing how a single word can have a magnetic power to control thoughts and deeds of others. Sometimes imprison them for years. And, facilitate a tyranny by a minority.

Take the word “Inclusion”, for example, especially fashionable in education for over half a century. On the back of it over 100 special schools were closed to entitle children with special needs gain their education in mainstream schools without being “segregated” (another word.) As I showed in my last post about Ashleigh Ritchie, now Mrs Ash Watts, segregation in a special school does not necessarily land pupils among the “disadvantaged.” (another word). Read Robin Jackson’s account of how it all started.

Sadly, the latest OECD PISA Reports say that one in four pupils in UK schools do not have a sense of belonging to their mainstream school, very probably bullied – with cyber bullying on the increase; in many cases medicated with Ritalin, an increasing number of exclusions, suicides and with mental health problems. Guess who they probably are. Did those endorsing “Inclusion” in the first place anticipate that?

The attainment gaps between Special Educational Needs and non-SEN pupils by age 19 have risen from 26% in 2015 to 33% in 2018.

This is what happens when Shammateurs allow slogans to determine policies without professional research and – with the notable exception of the Sunderland Echo that sang the praises of Barbara Priestman School – are egged on by the media  in its ignorance stigmatise all special schools, with an absolutely scandalous disregard for the cautionary voices of experience.

This leads me to two other words. “Equality” and “Diversity” and a further thought. So many people today parade these words – have them as part of their job title.

Do they realise that they are often alternatives – EITHER Equality OR Diversity?

It is the very diversity of so many different special needs that makes the quest for Equality that powers Inclusion so elusive. So many others with and without special needs have their rights that also rank and it is quite wrong to ignore them. As I said in my book Death of a Nightingale with ispy, We are equal only sometimes, unequal most times, and different always.” And, when we are different we all have different and legitimate human rights that may conflict with each other. Fair play not Equality resolves that conflict.

Selection is not a dirty word. Look at the education system in Germany where there is no national curriculum.

 Take the other thing I write about – urban cycle lanes in the UK. The cycling lobby claims an equal right with other road users to road space and an obligation for everyone else to make it safe for them.

But only two per cent of road users are cyclists, doubling them still only four per cent. They pay no road tax. They are not required to have 3rd party insurance. Drivers must wear seat belts. They are not required to wear helmets or masks. Their breaches of the Highway Code are usually ignored, not quite the same for everyone else,

When you think of the diversity of the drivers of other vehicles and their passengers, emergency vehicles, buses, delivery vans, taxis, cars for business, domestic or leisure uses then Equality is the wrong word.

When so many have different rights, fair play not Equality goes with the word Diversity. It is EITHER/OR not BOTH/AND.

One more illustration of what I am driving at – the words “parity of esteem” and ‘self-esteem”. Parity of esteem is a level playing field just as long as you are on it and it is set by others. Self-esteem is your own personal winning post on any field and it is set by you. It means you are comfortable in your own skin, self-confident able to move up in the world. It is what a good school should provide for all its children. Ashleigh Ritchie’s school provided it. Those who wanted to close it didn’t see it

“Parity of esteem” has shaped thought in a big way in education and “self-esteem” has lost out in in big way. An equal right to Higher Education at Universities. for half of a comprehensive with no distinction between academic and technical, poly’s and diplomas scrapped in the process.

But what about the rights of the other half, only recently apprenticeships for some of them. You reap as you sow. Failing to get into Uni does not breed self-esteem. It breeds children without hope. We are reaping the whirlwind in the inner cities. Violence, knife crime, gang culture, obesity.

Do schools work to make life meaningful for them? For example, being streetwise if not book-wise. The Internet. Having basic skills in sport, leisure and everyday activities. Health, fitness, diet and nosh generally.  Ability to read a French or German newspaper and its sports page. Opening their doors to life. Respecting their Diversity. Is this anything educationalist preaching Equality think about? I don’t see it in Times Ed ever.

There should be an alternative curriculum for those kids wanting it; and teachers should be for kids not the other way around.

I started thinking about this in Spital Bülach hospital. It was the uniforms the staff wore that got me thinking, different from uniforms in an NHS hospital. A very smart white trousered unisex attire with no distinction between doctor and nurse, physio’s in smart blue shirt and white trousers, cleaning staff off-white.

There will be those who think that this doesn’t matter. To think it does is bourgeois. Old fashioned too. However, in my view it was an attempt to marry self-esteem with parity of esteem, but at a price.

I thought a doctor was a nurse and a nurse a doctor until I subsequently found otherwise and no visible hierarchy. I did not know who was ultimately responsible for me.

I must stop complaining and play the glad game. The Swiss hospital food was terrific  in nutrition and appearance– the NHS should have a look – and when it came to the treatment the hospitals in Zurich and Newcastle both rose to the challenge, the one in Newcastle substantially greater, and I am here to write this with profound thanks to both.

And my own conclusion here –  smart attire adds a corporate professionalism that casual pyjama attire lacks – no uniform at all. It doesn’t need to be less practical.

 Very simply I think that sometimes diversity – and respect for difference -trumps equality with the dangerous attraction of mediocrity. Instead, the positive encouragement of unequal excellence.

Enough for the moment. Next time I shall visit the 70-year War between Israel and the Palestinians and suggest that the word. Equality in that context is a roadblock not a gateway. There are better words to use to get a peaceful resolution.

I shall also write about the right to clean air and suggest that fair play for all those seeking a resolution of this issue, not the word Equality that gets you where most people don’t want to be.

I will also tell you if I can safely publish my other Eureka thoughts in Kafka’s Cycle  in the public interest without the threat of an action for libel – more of that in October. I will add these thoughts to them. They are relevant.









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