I was invited by The Regional Training Unit of the Department of Education to give the after dinner speech at the end of their Summer School at Stranmillis this year. Here is a recording I made of it.
“Past generations appear convinced that their own educational experience was better than what is available today.
They didn’t mind corporal punishment – it was good for them.
They didn’t mind having to bring in a lump of coal for the fire – it made them realise the value of things.
They didn’t mind that the teacher had a pet pupil who got all the praise – or worse.
And what is all the modern fuss about bullying in school? When I was a lad, we were bullied all the time and it taught us to stand up for ourselves.
The debate on education is hampered by this incredible paradox; that it is seen to be in decline from an age in which provision was patently worse.
Furthermore, teaching was more creative then, people will say. Teachers didn’t have to have lesson plans or follow the core curriculum; they could follow their own intuition about how to get the best out of everybody.
And most pupils failed their exams, so that proves standards were high.”