A post over at Robert Guyton's blog, on the subject of education, got me thinking. The basis for the post was a post by Chris Trotter, at Bowalley Road, so it's come quite a way to get here. And the posts themselves were not that exciting, it's more the comments, and what we can draw from them.
In this case it's the effectiveness of National's message-management back in the first part of their first term. Case in point - The decision to axe night-classes was petty, poorly thought out, and economically unjustifiable. We are worse off, as a society, as a direct result. Yet the stupid meme that was used to sell the destructive change still persists. The simple message was that there are courses on notionally pointless stuff like making stained glass.
Night classes were mostly about learning much more practical stuff, like languages, wood and metal crafts cooking. I learned about computer aided draughting and small business accounting at night school., and put both to practical use.
The more abstract stuff is, well, more abstract, but using abstractness as an excuse for destroying something good is a poor reflection on our obsession with monetary value. In business terms the value of similar concepts is referred to as "intangibles", or "brand value". The night classes for abstract things were good for the soul (I presume, I never did one) and helped people weave their way into the fabric of the community.
I wonder whether our rapid change into a society that imports everything except food* means we have given up our crafty roots, abandoned our desire to actually build the stuff we need, and want. Our innovative spirit has let overseas IP become a barrier. Our talented people flown overseas to escape the miasma that is low quality jobs and poor management; visionless leadership.
We let another institution go for no good reason at all, just a simple concept expressed effectively - "night classes in making stained-glass".
*acknowledging the massive generalisation
Pixies - Doolittle, 1989