Real people

One partial protection against the ever-present danger in the Blogosphere of losing yourself in an isolated “echo chamber” of like-minded thinkers is to step out of doors – and back in time – and actually meet real people.
A couple of days ago I stepped back a decade, to the London debating club which was the forum for my thinking in the years between talk.politics.misc in the Department of Computing lab and Anomaly UK. The views of people who are adjacent to me in physical space-time are perhaps deserving of more of my attention than they would be had I selected them from the limitless ether.

On the subject of selective education, one member drew a contrast between his own educational experience and that of today’s children. He said that as a working-class boy at a Grammar School, he and those like him had a desire to (horrible phrase) “better themselves” that seemed to be missing today. The “horrible phrase” comment was his own, and when I asked him why he thought it was horrible, he didn’t seem sure – he just said that we didn’t say things like that these days.
He didn’t seem to make any connection between the unfashionableness of the phrase (which he appeared to accept) and the demise of the thing itself, which he appeared to regret. The connection seems obvious to me.

Another speaker, a younger man, interested me because he said he had been dissuaded from going to University by the general perception of lowered standards and value of university education. He was planning to go to Sandhurst. I suspect more people are going to choose career paths that bypass higher education, and that some industries are going to take advantage. The military, with its own well-established training and education system, is well placed to do so.