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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Laterally SpeakingPost Pandemic Education

Post Pandemic Education

It was a long time ago, but I don’t think I did that well in my school exams. Back in the old days when ‘O’ Levels were a real thing rather than a dinosaur benchmark, I loved painting and playing the piano and I loved my history classes particularly when I was being taught by the beautifully youthful Miss Andrews. She was not just a breath of fresh air, but a positive blast of Charlie by Revlon. Yes, I fantasise about her still…
However, I did NOT love Physics or Chemistry or French grammar or anything requiring me to calculate the length of a pendulum when X was greater than the square root of Y. Or something… Aided by the excellent coaching of Mr Mattinson whose brown stained fingers were nicotine glued to his revolting old Dunhill pipe, I somehow managed to learn the secrets of quadratic equations without succumbing to his poisonous tobacco environment. Nowadays, he’d have been arrested as a mobile health hazard.
I don’t know quite how I managed it but I got my regulation three A levels before escaping to work on a radio station in Canada. The whole exam thing was a drudge, a bore. I would much rather have taken my exams in exciting subjects like ‘Medieval History’ with all those poisonings and battles, or even ‘Practical Biology’ (particularly if Miss Andrews was involved) but in those days none of us had much say in which exam subjects we studied. I seem to remember I took and remarkably passed Applied Maths because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I certainly did not consider it a subject that steered me onto a career path. In fact, I never had any use for pendulum measurement back then or at any time afterwards.
Of course, it is all so different now. Not only do teachers have a crucial input on exam results (shock, horror) but exam subjects themselves will have to be so much more practical for a post-pandemic world. I mean, what’s the point in conjugating French (let alone Latin) verbs if we’re all headed for rising temperatures and global doom? I suppose we should teach our children basic survival techniques for a burnt out or smouldering planet. Perhaps A levels in Waste Management or Recycling would be more appropriate. How about exams in Water Divining, Food Deliveries or recharging batteries? The latter would be particularly useful if there’s no mains electric power left and we all have to survive without triple A batteries or rechargeable mobile phones… It hardly bears thinking about… but perhaps the time is coming sooner than we think when we’ll all need to be re-educated in order to cope with basic human survival. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and apocalyptic disaster.
Think of the opportunities in practical sciences. We can all pass exams in Home Economics and Practical Cooking where marks are taken away if you don’t recycle your kitchen waste effectively while pupils can work out the nutritional values and benefits of insects as foods. Anyone for dried mealworm fricassee or baked grasshoppers in moth ragout? Naturally Kitchen Management will also require a degree in the humane treatment of all animals, including the proper euthanizing of slugs, wasps and garden pests, but this won’t worry most domestic chefs as the majority of all recipes will be strictly Vegan. This will also produce a radical change in farming and food production as nobody by the year 2040 will be eating meat. All farm livestock will be sold off as household pets so a key growth skill might well be animal husbandry and veterinary science.
For those of you with a flair for sport and outside activities, think again. Since the Arctic ice will have mostly melted, leaving the North Pole as a patch of stormy water full of cruise ships, the surface of the Earth will be way too hot to conduct any physical activity outdoors.
And the Arts will have new criteria to contend with, particularly if you’re into design and fashion. For example, Paris and London Fashion Houses will be able to design new shirts and dresses made of fully biodegradable materials like ‘bag for life’ plastic bags and Amazon recyclable cardboard packaging. Exceptions might be made for ‘special occasion clothing’ like Wedding Dresses and Sports-wear because weddings are ‘one use only’ and sports clothing will be required to keep you warm as the air conditioning in the indoor sports arenas will make everything freezing and icy cold. Welcome to a Brave New World of Education in 2040…

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