Times tables back? Not when we can ask Poles to do sums

No, they are not going to bring back times tables. Teachers think this sort of thing is beneath them, and that making any child learn things is cruel.

I must have heard Education Ministers promise to restore times tables 20 times. Nothing ever happens, except that the unfortunate politician is asked on air to say what nine eights are, and can’t.

I do wish that some of them would retaliate by testing the TV and radio presenters who torment them on their knowledge of the tables.

I doubt whether most of them could cope.

Even I, properly drilled in tables at a strict-regime school in the 1950s, trip up sometimes. On Friday, I was shocked and mortified to find I couldn’t do 11 times 11.

Even I, properly drilled in tables at a strict-regime school in the 1950s, trip up sometimes, writes Peter Hitchens (stock photo)

But most politicians and TV presenters, being far younger than I am, never endured what I did – the rhythmic, endless chanting as we sat in rows, while the sun shone temptingly outside.

Instead, they were sometimes ‘tested’ at school, while their poor parents were expected to make themselves unpopular with their children, and do the actual teaching, perhaps in the car. But that rarely works.

This is a pity, because my times tables are the one part of my schooling that I still consciously use, many times a day. I still need them. And so does everyone else.

So why is this latest pledge, like all the others, a fantasy and a false promise?

It’s partly because all proper education rests on authority, on the idea that adults have something to teach, and children have much to learn.

And teachers no longer have any real authority. What they have is conditional authority, while luck lasts.

The Guardian newspaper, which thinks very highly of itself, has this week made a public apology to me, for telling a serious untruth about me.

It has done so in a very obscure place, and very grudgingly, but it has done so. I count this as a triumph.

You will have to visit my blog for the details (if you are lucky, yours may be the 30 millionth visit, as I’m fast approaching that total). 

Teachers are seldom more than 30 seconds and three feet away from an accusation of abuse that, even if totally untrue, will ruin their lives and their careers irrevocably.

They can charm. Or they can bluff. In some cases the bluff is backed up by almost totalitarian regimes in schools with charismatic, overpowering heads.

Such heads usually find subtle ways of excluding troublesome children, either before they arrive, or afterwards. But the excluded ones have to go somewhere.

And that means that most of the difficult stuff, from times tables on up to irregular verbs in foreign languages, either is not done at all, or is skirted around, except in highly selective schools, state or private, almost all of which pick their children and parents on the basis of wealth and privilege.

Even then, look and see how the numbers taking languages, especially, decline over the years.

But of course the grades go on getting better, and the number of people with supposed ‘qualifications’ and alleged ‘degrees’ gets bigger and bigger, even if no one knows what six nines are.

But employers, if they can, somehow seem to prefer to hire Poles or Romanians.

We may have the certificates. But it is the people from the old-fashioned countries that tend to have the education.

Seventeen more deaths because we won’t ask a simple question

Amid all the usual fuss about guns, important information about Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Florida shooter, is as usual obscured.

So here it is. The Miami Herald spoke to his aunt, Barbara Kumbatovic, who said: ‘I know he did have some issues, and he may have been taking medication.’ Other reports speak of him having received ‘treatment’ for mental problems – which almost invariably means powerful mind-altering drugs, often known to cause suicidal or violent thoughts.

Can I make this simple point again? The USA has always had freely available guns, indeed they used to be more freely available than they are now. It has had schools, and racialist fanatics too, for more than a century. Yet these school massacres are a feature of the modern era.

And what is new about the modern era? Two things: the widespread use of illegal mind-altering drugs, especially marijuana; and the even more widespread use of legal mind-altering drugs, especially SSRI ‘antidepressants’, but also steroids and ‘ADHD’ drugs, often amphetamines which are illegal in any other circumstances.

Seized: Police arrest Nikolas Cruz after the mass killing at a Florida school

Seized: Police arrest Nikolas Cruz after the mass killing at a Florida school

It was revealed the other day that the three London Bridge killers Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba, had taken ‘large quantities’ of steroids before their crimes last June.

Steroids had also been taken by Khalid Masood, the Westminster murderer, and by Omar Mateen, the Orlando night-club mass murderer, and by Anders Breivik, the Norway mass killer.

Almost every terror killer in Europe in the past few years has been a cannabis user. You might also like to know that SSRI ‘antidepressants’ were used by at least one of the Columbine High School killers. The other’s medical records are sealed, though there are strong indications that he too was taking such pills.

This is nothing like a complete list. It would be longer still if the authorities showed any interest in this fascinating and important correlation, but as yet they do not.

Quite often, those who end up on prescription pills became mentally ill after using marijuana, which is increasingly correlated with mental trouble. Police nowadays no longer bother to pursue the crime of cannabis use, so it is quite possible for it to go unrecorded.

All this may be totally irrelevant. But then again, it may be important. In which case, we need to act. Once again, I offer these facts in the hope that someone in Government or Parliament will hold the inquiry into this connection which is so badly needed.

Oxfam outrage lays bare the Lefty bigots

As the horrible abusive crimes of some Oxfam workers are revealed, Left-wing types crowd the media saying that these outrages are individual misdeeds and should not unleash a fury against foreign aid in general.

Well, I agree. But these same Left-wing types did not take this view when abuse was revealed in churches.

They used the crimes of individual priests as a weapon with which to beat the Christian religion as a whole.

I warned against this. I said that abuse could just as easily happen in liberal, secular outfits.

Now that the BBC and Oxfam have both proved me right, will the Left soften their bigoted fury against religion? What do you think?


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