Friday, 22 February 2008

The horse and the rider

The old tale goes that the horse was looking for some help - so he called in a rider.

Seemed like a good decision at first, as the rider guided and directed him. Later it looked like a less good decision, because the rider gradually took over completely. The horse now only went wherever the rider told him to go. At first, he didn't like this very much and protested. Years later, the horse had completely forgotten about how things used to be. He just did what he was told, and didn't bother to even ask why.

In Britain today the government thinks that it's part of its remit to bring in something so ridiculous as compulsory cooking lessons. Apparently, this is all in aid of tackling the problem of obesity. Reading in between the lines, parents cannot be trusted to teach their children rightly, so we need the government to stick its oar in and make the "right thing" compulsory. Even the schools themselves aren't up to deciding what's necessary - it's compulsory cooking for all. The central body has complained that children are spending too much time decorating pizzas, and so its issued new rules to sort the thing out. It's even issuing new rules on who should pay for the ingredients, in case the local schools bungle that one too. I must have missed the news item where the government solved every worthwhile problem that actually belonged to its domain, leaving them free to spend the taxpayers' money on this.

Nobody bats an eyelid because we've been used to this kind of thing for years. I could have picked hundreds of other examples. I expect that if average Joe Punter from the UK pops along to this blog post, he may think I'm being a bit odd by even talking about this. According to the BBC, the significant organisations actually expect the government to be poking its nose into this kind of thing - "compulsory cookery lessons had been demanded by the Children's Food Campaign, a coalition of more than 50 health organisations, teachers' unions, children's charities and others."

Read more here:

In the beginning, inviting the government to do our educating for us probably seemed like a good idea to our ancestors. Some years later, now that Whitehall has decided that parents, local headteachers and governors are so incompetent that they need central government to tell them such a simple thing as how much instruction in cooking to give their children, and that they've been spending too much time with pizza toppings for central government's liking, this idea is looking decidedly less good.

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