Patrick Ainley Guardian letter 05/07/2012

Another ‘lost generation’ piece by Polly Toynbee  follows UCAS announcing a 10% drop in English undergraduate applications but still leaving 100,000 without a place. Given the lack of any alternatives, it is no wonder so many still apply but the graduatisation of remaining jobs (barrister to barista etc) pushes those ‘further down the food chain’, as Polly says, into part-time, unskilled, insecure and contract working – if they are lucky.

What is ignored in these litanies to lost youth is the corrosion of education itself, which is in danger of losing its validity as a way forward for new generations. Unconnected to possibilities for practice, displaying knowledge for evaluation has replaced learning with test-taking. Broken down for quantifiable assessment and behavioural manipulation at one end and cramming for traditional exams at the other, this simulacrum of learning disguises the decline in achievement all teachers recognise

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