Dedicated to David Walpole
Schools are out and the world is loud and the roads are jammed and our peace is damned.
It is the summer holiday and would the darkest winter were here again.
We sat after dinner on a summer’s eve – replete, satisfied and happy with ourselves.
Suddenly, a challenge.
“What has education done for you?” asked my visitor as he lay his Guardian by his empty cup of coffee.
Gove brained Nicky Morgan had apologised for appearing to see education as purely utilitarian rather than spiritual… Silly politician…
His other guardian – to wit, his wife – giggled nervously for she was used to his difficult questions –
Fired forth as out of a blunderbuss to land across a wide horizon in search of an improbable answer.
His eyes narrowed slightly as they always did when he enjoyed his gentle social misfit role.
And his listeners’ odd discomfort at being asked difficult questions.
He reminded me of my long departed brother whose pleasure was always discomfiting others with impossible questions on improbable subjects.
“What has education done for you?” he repeated encompassing us three in wide arc of panoramic encirclement from whence there was no escape.
I, being highly educated and supremely intellectual and much read, prepared a staggeringly deep response.
And, like the novice painter with a clear image in his head, what came out was a hotchpotch of colours all untidy and rash.
Still, thought my superior brain, continue apace with your response, word upon word upon more words and
The painting will come out just right and, as the eye adjusts to its multifarious colours,
So does the ear adjust to the melodious and mellifluous sounds that are pretty –
Meaning nothing but somehow remembered for their beauty like a vista from a hilltop filling its viewer with reverberating joy.
“Yes. Yes.” replied he. “But what has education done for you? Answer the question, please…”
Herbert-like, I struck the board and cried “No more…” I spoke of the fourth dimension.
I waxed lyrical about critical thinking and deep understanding and comforting complexity.
And I intoned: “I wear no collar for anyone or any thought and worship no gods in my pantheon.”
“I see… These are skills… You can be trained in them… What has education done for you?”
Oh how I hate it when the tongue does not obey the brain and when it makes sounds –
Around a central idea of sheer genius but the sounds are like a tired chicken clucking unheard.
At last, my tongue met my Occipital Lobe driving the little Amygdala and its friendly reptile abroad. And, enlightened, I spoke thus:
“I am contented with my wit. At home with my soul. Happy in my company. Love my books. Enjoy my poetic self. Love many fictional characters. And adore Shakespeare’s Iambic pentameter… And care little about social conventions and less about money…”
Oh! How deep art thou my dear self?
“Yes…” said he doubtfully as the eyes filled with delighted mischief. “But…”
“I hated school,” said his wife.
And I was grateful for her words as my saviours.
His adorable mischief.
My highbrow intellect.
Her gentle intervention.
So, what has education done for any of us?
Hers probably did the most for her…
“What has education done for you?”
And with my last breath I shall reply…
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi