An election in education

In previous articles we have commented on how different figures of speech, namely euphemisms and oxymorons, can be both clever and amusing and how even through the humour there are important lessons that can be gleaned from them about education.

In a similar way, it is fun to look at anagrams and see how changing the letters of a word round to make another word can be not simply clever and amusing but also revealing and indeed accurate.

An anagram of ‘dormitory’ is ‘dirty room’, that of ‘schoolmaster’ is ‘the classroom’ while ‘punishment’ has an anagram ‘nine thumps’ – some of us may testify to the accuracy and veracity of each of these!

The anagram of ‘The Eyes’ is easy – ‘they see’! Maths and English even combine when we see that ‘eleven plus two’ is an anagram of ‘twelve plus one’ where the answer is the same mathematically as well!

Interestingly, an anagram of one of the brightest people, Albert Einstein, is ‘ten elite brains’; again, we may smile at how true that might appear although we may wish to differ when we discover that an anagram of ‘Presbyterian’ is ‘Best in Prayer’! We will not reveal what the anagram of ‘mother-in-law’ is (rather leaving it to the reader to find out, and then use at his peril) but again we might find it interesting to learn that the anagram of ‘Election Results’ is ‘Lies! Let’s recount!’ Seriously!

Of course, there will be some readers who will be in disbelief and will have checked all of the claimed anagrams above; we welcome these doubters back now as we reflect on what this has to do with education.

 Elections have a lot to do with education, just as education should have a great deal to do with elections. Here in Zimbabwe, we will soon be having elections so a valid question to ask is: What might our children learn from the elections?

The first thing they might learn is, if the elections are held during term-time, causing great disruption to prearranged calendar dates and external examination deadlines, with schools and teachers being used extensively in the process, that education, indeed the very future of the children, is not really all that important.

For all the talk about the importance of education, do we see that being supported by elections?

Pupils will deduce that their education is actually not high on people’s priorities while very little forward planning was applied. If schools and teachers have to be used (that is debatable) and term dates are set well in advance, why is there need for interruptions?

The behaviour of all involved in the run-up to the elections will also be most educational, for many youngsters may well learn that what is taught at school actually has little relevance or application to life outside of school.

While it is constantly ingrained in them at school that there is no place whatsoever for lying, bullying or cheating, when it comes to elections, they may well learn that there is — though of course the words are changed (but not with anagrams).

They may learn that people lie; after all, when two totally conflicting stories emanate from the same events, someone must be lying. They cannot both be right.

Schools teach that every child has the right and responsibility to speak but around elections they may discover that that no longer applies.

Schools will teach that every pupil must respect all other pupils and not force other people to think the same way but around elections they may discover again that this part of the curriculum may well be forgotten.

They may also learn that people, instead of appealing to someone’s conscience, need only appeal to their stomach.

They may learn that, contrary to all that is taught at school, no admission of guilt, no restitution is required.

They may learn that people need only admit to what they think others will know, despite what schools are teaching.

They may learn that when things look awkward or bad, people should simply blame others; being creative is part of the curriculum, sure, but so is integrity.

The main lesson that we might learn, even if the children do not, is simply that adults involved in these elections may have learned nothing from their time at school as they still act like the children that we seek to educate, only worse, as they have gained more strength, experience and practice than our children.

It will not be just a week’s learning that is lost — we will lose an entire generation.

Playing with words is one thing, maybe even a fun thing; playing with children’s lives is not.

We are not dealing with mother-in-law here. We are dealing with something far more serious.

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. 
  • email: [email protected]
  • website: www.atschisz

Related Topics