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article imageOp-Ed: Home education student, 14, offered place at Cambridge

By Paul Wallis     Jan 7, 2010 in World
Arran Fernandez, the young math prodigy from Surrey, has qualified for a place at the famous Cambridge University, making him the youngest student for 200 years. The previous was William Pitt the Younger, a Prime Minister during the Napoleonic era.
Arran’s entry into Cambridge is earned by getting his A levels. He’s a maths fan, as well as a prodigy, loving the subject. He’ll be studying at Fitzwilliam College, which judging from the press coverage is delighted to have him.
Arran has also raised, yet again, the issue of Home Schooling vs. Death Valley, the standard educational stagger through the school system. Home schoolers are passionate about the advantages of their methods.
In comparison with institutional schooling, home schooling does regularly throw up some serious challenges. With monolithic fees and standardized qualification requirements as the criteria, not to mention the use of years of people’s lives, institutional schooling is starting to look pretty haggard, stingy, and unproductive.
It’s also arguable that teacher’s lives would be made easier if more people took advantage of home schooling as an option. Some parents can’t provide home school, not having the education themselves, but many could. Cramming schools full of kids who don’t want to be there and loathe the environment hasn’t been helping much, either.
The equation (sorry, Arran) is that efficiency and school dynamics are better served by allowing students to progress at their own speeds, not an arbitrary, chaotic production line where people keep dropping off all the time. The teaching profession is also not receiving much justice by remaining in the Dickensian mode when an education is available at the click of a computer.
Is it a productive use of anyone’s time for entire generations to be fed through the grinder on principle, coming out at the other end with whatever results circumstances allow? The situation at the moment is “Input-kids: Output-God knows what”. Education is carrying around the relics of a system which is now about as functional as health care in terms of service in relation to results.
The fact is that societies can barely afford their education systems, and don’t seem to know what to do with them. The people suffering are the kids themselves, and the employment market, which is receiving the dubious harvest of whatever this sad collection of concepts is able to produce.
Arran and others like him keep proving there are better ways. What’s going to be done about it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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