And how about this gem:
Funding has been shifted away from education provided in response to adult learner demands towards employer responsive training.In plain English this means that you will not be allowed to learn what you want, only what employers want you to learn (in reality, what the government thinks that employers want you to learn). This is an unequivocal restatement of the abandonment of the historic mission of adult education, its roots in the labour movement and the working class autodidact tradition, and the idea of a continuing, liberal, life-enhancing education. Instead, learning is only permitted to be about work, and not even about what you need to improve your working life (like knowledge of legal employment rights) or change your career. No, it is only supposed to provide what employers want you to know so that you are more useful to them.
I get a combined sense of weary resignation and intense anger when I read this stuff. However, it was this article by Robert Skidelsky that put the whole dismal affair into perspective. The article deals with the failure of Keynes' prediction that there would come a time that we would have sufficient to live a good life, aspire to possess no more and the working week would drop to around 15 hours. Of course, Skidelsky doesn't mention that the reason why we continue to work longer is less to do with the social aspects of work or the continuing desire for more goodies, but because we bloody have to unless you hit it lucky with the chance of early retirement (phew!). However, Keynes also had a pessimism about a leisure society, one not shared by all his contemporaries.
He writes: "It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional economy."This horribly snobbish sentiment does have a grain of truth lurking in it that a leisure society needs leisure activities, and not just the mind numbing ones that I am about to open and switch on. Skidelsky, with a similar scant regard for popular pleasures, wrings his hands in Buntingesque misery at our collective failure:
Finding the means to nourish the fading "associations or duties or ties" that are so essential for individuals to flourish is the unsolved problem of the developed world...Well one of the solutions was the joy of learning - skills, crafts, art, literature, history, philosophy, language, music, dance, drama, the list goes on and on. It was called adult education, and, you know what is happening now, we are killing it.