Letter: Fighting back against Britain's 'anti-education culture'

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Sir: Brian Appleyard protests too much. An anti-educational culture is one of the most enduring themes of western literature, from Shakespeare's schoolboy "creeping unwillingly to school" to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. The sociological literature of the 1950s to the 1970s delineated the issue in classic studies such as Peter Wilmot's Adolescent Boys in East London, Colin Lacy's High Town Grammar, and Paul Willis's Learning to Labour.

But let us remind ourselves, in fact education has never been more popular, with three-quarters of adolescents moving on to post-compulsory studies and over one third going to universities.

Of course there are obstacles to be overcome if we are to meet the national targets of practically every person leaving education with at least NVQ 2 or five C-plus grades at GCSE by the millennium. But as the article on Phoenix High School in your education section on the same day shows, real teachers and real schools are working on these. Let us support these efforts and stop the panic.

No doubt there will always be a few like Mark Twain who "never let his schooling interfere with his education".

Peter Copping

Manchester

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