Thursday, 9 December 2010

Dominik Rivron's Universally Challenged

OK - so some days ago fellow blogger Dominik Rivron invited people to write answers to questions from a school exam paper.  Having spent the days since wondering which one to go for I eventually decided to put some spurious one sentence answers to some and then have a proper go at another.  Here's my attempt:

Are modern politicians merely managers?
No – any manager that useless would be sacked

Can the ‘freeness’ and ‘fairness’ of elections be measured?
Yes, but due to differences with the EU we can’t decide whether to measure in pounds or kilos

Is there anything to be said for astrology?
There is – but it’s written in the stars

Are technological changes creating a golden age of cinema?
Is Phantom Menace better than A New Hope? Case closed

What can we learn from a century of sound recording?
A group of five vaguely feminine young boys will always sell records

Is Islam more dangerous than any other religion?
No – the Knights Templar were acting for the Pope, remember?

Is good for literature?
Yes and no, but not as good and bad as Charlotte Bronte and Geoffrey Archer

Would you ban a book?
No – with the possible exception of “Jimmy Greaves – It’s A Funny Old Game”

Have any philosophical questions been solved?
I believe they are still debating that one

Is it worse to be cruel to a fox than to a flea?
Other than one is furry and cute and the other isn’t – not really

Does it matter who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?
Only if it really was a time-travelling stoat called Albert

Is it immoral to buy a £10,000 handbag?
Not immoral, just fecking stupid

Does celebrity entail loss of dignity?
No – only the things people do to maintain celebrity

Is Exile always a misfortune?
Depends on if you are the Exiler or the Exilee

If there are millions of other planets capable of supporting advanced life-forms why haven’t we seen or heard from them?
Most of us can’t be bothered to get up to turn the TV off – imagine the hassle of travelling 40 million light years

Is corruption inevitable?
Give me £10 and i'll tell you

What is war good for?
Absolutely nothing (say it again)

"A lunatic is easily recognised.  Sooner or later he brings up the Knight's Templar" (Umberto Eco) - Discuss
See answer to question six

Should University Education Be Free
During the recent election campaign in England the Liberal Democrat party made an election pledge that they would not increase university tuition fees.  Of course they were the outsiders and probably felt reasonably safe promising free elephants for all - but then the election results came in and, against most people's expectations they formed an alliance with the Conservative party - and promptly began talking about increasing tutition fees.

Students were, rightly, outraged and took to the streets to campaign - but is university education an automatic right?  Should the state continue to fund the education of people studying art, film, english, economics - or even more practical skills?

Most other countries do not provide much or any funding for education in this way - people are expected to start saving for their child's education when they are born - if the child choses not to go to University then they have a downpayment on a house or a car.

Most students come out of university with a £30,000 debt hanging over their heads - even before they think about looking for a home.  Even with the various protections of fixed interest until they earn a certain salary this is an unthinkable burden to be hanging over a young person who is just starting out in life. 

For myself: i work full time and all my money goes into paying bills and keeping a roof over my head.  I would love to go back to University and study (having missed out when i left school), but I am penalized because I am earning a certain amount of money and therefore judged capable of paying for myself.  Should I receive funding as a recognition of my situation?  Or is it my responsibilty to find extra money?

The inevitable down side of increasing and setting charges for university is that less people will be able to afford to go and the result could be that only the well off will receive a high level university - but is a reduction in numbers at university necessarily a bad thing?  10-15 years ago if you went to an employer with any degree you would stand a better chance of getting the job, regardless of the relevancy of the qualification.  Nowadays the sheer number of people entering for the qualification means that only the exact degree will do.

Surely instead of concentrating so heavily on further education we should concentrate on developing practical skills.  England was once described as a nation of shopkeepers, but today in the call centre world that we live in we could equally be accused of being shop assistants.

I personally feel that it is morally wrong to impose a level of such intense debt on a generation of people and that our country can only suffer from this in the long term - but equally I feel that there is an attitude in this country that everything should be given to us for free: and maybe its time that we started working out ways to take it instead.

In the current climate savings have to come from somewhere - but they shouldn't be paid for with yet another generation of debt.  A more reasonable route might be to plan in a slow increase over a period of a generation, but at the same time promote the concept of saving for ones future.


The Bug said...

Oh you don't EVEN want to know how much Dr. M owes on his student loans - we own a really nice house! Except we can't live in it because it's in his brain. Sigh.

I agree with all of your answers except the first one. Obviously you've never been exposed to the Dilbert principle: companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing. ( Heh.

Argent said...

I think that basically, people should pay for their education but if they are poor but bright, there should be bursaries or scholarships available so that those people are not automatically diadvantaged. I think there is an element of truth in the idea that Batchelor's degrees are a bit ubiquitous these days. Having had pay for my own degree myself all the way through I don't have a huge amount of sympathy.

Dominic Rivron said...

Very thought provoking. As for things being free, I think there is a distinction between free and free at point of delivery. Most things provided in this country are not "free". We all pay taxes in one form or another. Things that appear to be free are paid for through taxation. It's a civilised way of making civilisation available to everybody.

Dominic Rivron said...

You got me thinking so much I forgot to say thanks for joining in!

Titus said...

What a genius post! Bravo and Bravissimo!

Lydia said...

These are brilliant responses! And the longer one at the end is so timely to read after seeing the news reports from over there on Thursday night. I guess it is hard for me to imagine the system you currently have. My parents didn't (couldn't) save for higher ed for my sister and me and neither of us got huge scholarships so we both worked and took out student loans. After I returned to school as an adult to complete my degree I did the same thing all over again: work and take out a loan. We are still paying on the loan. Getting the degree was worth it to me, maybe would not be for others.

Enough about have a remarkable knack for writing current commentary. Seriously, great.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

If it is a need, it should be free. If it's something that's wanted, it has the freedom to be priced. But, of course, there are subjects and issues that fall in the gray matter of such a black-and-white statement.

No one NEEDS a degree to be able to get a job and make a living. Of course, so many employers ask for one that it seems impossible to be able to get a job without it. If capitalism is to work fairly and not how dumb conservatives envision it, then yes, school should be considered free. If a minority of more difficult but still accessible choices are provided to the society for attaining, making and keeping a living, then no, school doesn't have to be free.

Does Mr. Rivron mind if I answer all these questions on my own blog? My answers came up quite different from yours.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - yes, i'm aware of that principle - so should have taken that one into account!

Argent - in my opinion means testing doesn't go far enough - it should look at how much spare cash you have, but also at what luxuries - i was quite amused to hear that Dave Gilmour's son was amongst the protestors "Dad, can i go and complain about student fees?", "Yep, just as soon as i've flown my private lear jet"

Dominik - yes. We all want things for free, but dont want to have to pay for them first (eh?)

Titus - why thank you

Lydia - this is the problem i think: that people cant always afford to save or to take out loans and that should be taken into account

Samurai - i think there is possibly an argument that businesses should pay for some degrees - they are the ones that will benefit after all. With certain clauses - like a 3-5 years working with us or you pay us back?