From education to employment

Geoffrey Hubbard Lecture Announced in Honour of Michael Young

“Begin thus by making a more careful study of your pupils, for it is clear that you know nothing about them”.

That Rousseau touches on the new Age of Enlightenment we are currently experiencing within FE only serves to prove his worth as a classical thinker. His masterful treatise on Education, “Emile”, to nurture each child for their benefit and not to instil directives wholesale, influenced one of the twentieth century’s most revered social entrepreneurs, Michael Young. And the Cambridge based educational charity the National Extension College (NEC) has deemed this year’s Geoffrey Hubbard Memorial Lecture to be made in his honour.


To be held on Thursday 11th May 2006, hosted by the NEC at the British Library, the lecture entitled “Meritocracy and Mobility: Our debt to Michael Young” will be given by Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills, David Willets MP. Having drafted the original 1945 Labour Party manifesto and widely regarded as an innovative educational reformer, Michael Young’s bestselling 1958 satirical history of British Society, “The Rise of the Meritocracy”, will form the basis of the lecture.

Contending that the modern school system created a society more discordant and divisive than the class system, on the basis of dividing its members by IQ instead of wealth, Michael Young argued that a “meritocracy” simply readdressed the remits of inequality, yet did nothing to eliminate it. And consequently, a fundamentally unequal society would still remain.

In the light of numerous cries from industry and from our troubled FE sector, the lecture will address whether these problems still remain, and if our educational system simply reaffirms social class stratification, instead of, as in Rousseau’s and Young’s visionary ideal, creating a society where pupils could be schooled in an education to provide socially useful goals.

The annual lecture is named after Geoffrey Hubbard, Chair of the NEC trustees from 1989 to 1998, which oversaw the NEC’s aim to support 20,000 individual learners a year on over 100 home study courses, a programme that continues today.

Vijay Pattni

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