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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How ever do young people learn the skills of oratory and debate? A golden opportunity for Michael Gove and his White Paper.

So we have yet another Education Minister bringing forward a White Paper to reconfigure the educational structure of the country. Business and other employers know that it is hard going, to get the right home-grown people with the right skills at the right time. The desire of educated and articulate workers to enter the country is symptomatic of this.

Never have so many qualifications been awarded to so many and yet something is missing. It might be the inability of school leavers and college students to be at ease when using their voice confidently, presenting and holding a coherent conversation. It might have something to do with the recent finding that people in the UK, are spending in excess of 30 hours a week in front of some type of screen, and detached from those with whom they are communicating.

Michael Gove would serve students and society really well, if he were to put in place more curriculum opportunities for students to learn speaking skills. It would prepare young people for later times, when they have to deal with customer-care, start up a business, contribute to political activity or be a confident member of the community. It is about assertiveness and self-worth.

The prescient observations of Gertrude Stein in the early 20th century are more apt than ever: "Let us stop communicating with each other, so that we can have some conversation."

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