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institutional inertia in the uk (was re: perennial students)

updated fri 30 aug 02


Janet Kaiser on fri 30 aug 02

You know the problem with schools and colleges in the UK, Jenny? They
couldn't care less about extending their role beyond their daily quota of
students (children or adults) in nice orderly classrooms with neatly
organised timetables. From the directors/headmasters of institutions, the
staff, their board of governors through to the local councils and central
government who fund them, simply cannot think outside the box.

This particular box was established over 100 years ago, when universal
education for the masses was first introduced by Act of Parliament and yet
"they" have not adapted to the changes in modern society, let alone met the
challenges of building greater co-operation between groups of all ages
within the community. When one thinks of all the schools and colleges
across the country which are not used to their optimum capacity, let alone
as a truly community-based "service", it is quite heartbreaking.

Public libraries are finding that they are having to change with the times,
but educational institutions are sticking to the role they traditionally
see themselves fulfilling: from GCSE and A levels, HVQs through to advanced
degrees... all nicely structured and "accountable". A cosy nine to three,
six-hour day, five days per week, 35 weeks of the year. That a primary
school (for example) could be a vital cultural as well as educational heart
of the community 24/7, 52 weeks of the year seems to be beyond the grasp of
most educators and their political bosses.

And the reasons (excuses) always given? Security and insurance costs. But I
contend it is simple inertia and outright laziness. Not only the schools,
but the public too. It would only take a handful of activists to change the
system at a local level, but of course that is never going to happen. Too
many statutory as well as political and social hurdles to jump. It is
downright pathetic, but like they say after every election "We get what we

"Lifelong learning" is the professed objective of the government, yet
little is being done to facilitate learning outside the box. So in the
meantime the facilities you and others dream of being able to use freely
24/7, will remain closed to you. It is a shame and a terrible waste of
resources, but that is the way it is.

In the meantime, I hear that many house-owners in London are having cellars
"made". Maybe that would be an option for you in creating space for your
own workshop? OK, it would not be cheap, but it would add up to 30% to the
value of your house! Good luck making the space... And a whole cellar may
not be necessary. If Russel F. can work in a cupboard, I am sure you could
too! :-)


Janet Kaiser

The Chapel of Art =95 Capel Celfyddyd
8 Marine Crescent, Criccieth LL52 0EA, Wales, UK
Tel: 01766-523570 URL: