Given the current way that the education system is formatted one could be forgiven for thinking that people were required to churn out essays or consume books since time immemorial. Yet, there was a time that Universities were elite institutions that not everyone could attend, there was a time that vast swathes of people would be directed towards apprenticeships, there was a time that the acquisition of practical skills were vital but now the opposite of these histories is true.

Naturally there is a point to be made that this view could be outmoded and one should just accept that education changes as society changes and criticism of such is to just fervently cling to days gone by. Retired teacher Pamela Gibbons decided to ruminate that “we used to have grammar schools that would usually send children off to sixth form and universities whereas Secondary Modern Schools would often send children off to apprenticeships at age 16”. Arguably this is why so many people in slightly older generations (said as tactfully as possible) possess far more practical skills when it comes to things like mechanics or electrical appliances. When asked about whether the changes are for the better Pam offered the view that “when I was teaching in the 1980s girls would be sent off to do home economics such as sewing and cooking whereas boys would do crafts like metal work so whilst it is good that we no longer have a sexual split we have seemingly lost practical education altogether.” This appears to be a classic example of ‘what gives with one hand takes away with the other’ as we have installed a far more egalitarian system but have obliterated a section of the education system entirely.

Pam offered a very piercing insight about the differences between generations; “most young people these days still have a practical instinct and can fix computers far better than I can but these skills will be useless once technology develops but skills like being a plumber or electrician are constants but most people do not know how to do that”. This appears to be a damningly accurate insight that most of these essential skills are in the hands of a select few “and that is a very real shame that we have become too rigidly academic in our schools”.

 As someone who has observed how the education system has evolved it serves as the starkest reminder that education and political choices are indelibly entwined since it is the relinquishing of our industrial prowess that has led to the sharp decline in practical and arguably more enjoyable enthralling aspects of education. A humourful anecdote offered was that of “my friend had to get an electrician out to fix a plug and paid £50+ for it when people used to learn it at school for free”. This yields another interesting truth about the nature of our society that we are solely dependent on other people, in this case for a relatively exorbitant sum, instead of our own sense of resourcefulness and practical skill. “There is an imbalance in schools now between practical work and academic work with subjects like PE becoming mainly theory and exam based.” Whilst this is likely true, albeit regrettably so, there is certainly something to be done; “ I think a practical element should be reintroduced into the timetables and also practical lessons help take the intensity and pressure out of schools”. Whilst no single person can endeavour to change to education system entirely it is imperative that you try to develop these skills yourself so that you may transfer them onto other people.