When will we ever learn?

by Zbiggy 9th October 2015

OK, for those unfortunate enough to know me well, I have a somewhat strange mind. This post will probably, if you stay awake long enough to read it, confirm this.

When I first started thinking about this post it was going to be completely focused on education. However, quite possibly to the chagrin of my team, and without question, to the bane of my long-suffering wife, I have a habit of going “off-piste” so to speak.

Due to my illness after leaving the corporate world, I spent nearly all of my time reading. I was fascinated to learn, for very different reasons, that one of my heroes Tom Peters, the business guru, did exactly the same. I’d love to state that great minds think alike, but I’m not in his league.

The benefits of reading

Anyway, the reading that I did was done with a purpose, namely to try and get my mind working again to ensure I could go back to being the confident, productive, successful, free-thinker I was prior to suffering depression.

While reading the occasional thriller or biography, I mainly focused on business and self-help books. I can safely say it was both a truly therapeutic and amazingly enlightening experience.

Having had a successful career, and therefore exceptional experiences, it was great to be able to compare and contrast that with the “theoretical” experts.

My findings were pretty simple.

  • The act of reading and thinking is sometimes more beneficial than the content itself. It makes you question, challenge and ponder stuff. While you may not appreciate it at the time, it truly opens your mind.
  • Most self-help and business books are truly bollocks!
    • From a self-help perspective, these books are trying to make money out of the vulnerable or gullible via some crap, unproven formula.
    • From a business perspective, the books are so boring, theoretical and anal that it’s no wonder business is seen mostly as a “dull” profession.
  • All was not lost, however. I did manage to read some exceptional books that gave me the tools to think, not try and provide ready-made answers.

A small selection of some exceptional ones:

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition
by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action
by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton

Education or mental castration?

Before I dive into this I’m going to start with a quote.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu.

I’m going to be completely honest, and this just goes to show you learn something every day, I thought this was a quote from the Bible. Go figure!

Anyway, it sums up perfectly for me the shortcomings in regard to our education system in the UK. Namely, in my humble opinion, we’re too focused on teaching our kids to learn and not to think.

We’ve entered a new “industrial revolution”, due to globalisation and technological advances and yet we have an education system that was designed to reflect the old order. Namely, do what I say and follow the rules, and a focus on individual achievement.

Sorry, but for kids to be successful in the future we need them to be the complete opposite. We need to encourage kids to be independent thinkers, to explore masses of information and ultimately creatively connect the dots, and also to be able to do this while working with others.

It basically boils down to the fact we need to encourage right brain and not left brain thinking. Education should be a means to an end, not an end result in itself. Therefore, it’s time we accepted that and adapted the system to ensure a capable workforce for the future.

Great grades are wonderful, but not if they fail to fully prepare our kids to be truly adaptable and successful for what life has in store.

The ability to listen and then question

Building on the above point, and something I’ve covered on a number of occasions, is the importance of the family.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I achieved my degree in Economics and I’ve had a pretty successful career in spite of, not because of, my education.

Without question, this was due to an incredibly supportive family and group of friends, plus some exceptional role models.

However, what was also an incredible “education” was our regular discussions around the dinner table, both with family and friends. We would cover, discuss and argue about anything and everything, from politics to football hooliganism.

It taught me to listen, think and then respond, based on logic and reasoning. It was probably the greatest “mind gym” I could have attended.

The result: I’m fascinated by what people have to say, and I also have the confidence and intelligence to decide whether it makes real sense, and not just follow blindly.

“I live for myself and I answer to nobody.” Steve McQueen

If you know your history

Jesus! Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour Party Leader in the UK. Sorry to be so blunt, but what a dickhead!

I make no bones about having always voted for the Conservative party. The rationale is quite simple. Yes, they’re governed by self-interest, but unlike the Labour party they understand that making and encouraging me to be successful makes them successful.

Socialism for me is the complete opposite. It’s about indoctrination not education. Namely, we know best, follow us and we will lead you to a promised land of equality and happiness. Complete and utter bullshit, but not surprising, given that in the UK it’s normally spouted by people who’ve never truly lived or experienced the real world.

“I’m delighted that Lucy Powell is our new shadow Education Secretary. She has already set out how the education of every child and the quality of every school counts. Every school accountable to local government, not bringing back selection. We have aspirations for all children, not just a few.” Jeremy Corbyn.

Sorry mate, aspirations for all and not just the few?

I was part of the “comprehensive” experiment. Unlike Lucy, I attended a school with a Moss Side/Whalley Range catchment area. The result: not only a disaster in academic achievement, but a complete oxymoron in regards to their “strategy”.

If being anti-selection was the aim, why then stream our classes? Within two years any and every teacher of any ability had left. Why? Because they weren’t teaching, they were trying to cope with kids who had no desire or interest to learn.

I was lucky. I scraped by, but what was truly unacceptable was the number of bright kids who given a better education and school culture could have achieved so much more.

Therefore, I’m not interested, once again, in a bunch of no-mark politicians who have achieved nothing and done nothing in their life telling my kids what and how they should be taught.

A simple case in point: I was fortunate, given my career, to have dealt or worked with people from nearly every leading nation in the world. Without question, their education played a massive role in how they thought and behaved. In addition, I learnt an incredible amount via my interactions. The most pertinent being that when dealing with intelligent people from the far reaches of Eastern Europe, namely the Soviet Union, they only respond positively to one thing and that is power.

So to put it in layman’s terms, our “Comrade” Mr Corbyn has shown the world via the Trident discussion that he’s chicken shit. In a country such as Russia, where they pride themselves on men being men and women being women, they’re clearly rubbing their hands in glee to have such a weak puppet elected as Labour leader.

Also, Socialism/Communism/Marxism, however you wish to define it, is all about the few taking control of the many. Any and all that disagree are seen as evil. A couple of Belfast boys trying to make a living; a perfect case in point recently. Pardon the terrible pun but the left ideology has been proven to be a “cereal killer” on more than one occasion.

Just in case you need any convincing, a very startling figure: 110,000,000. This is basically a mid-estimate of the number of people that have been subjected to democide* in communist countries.

Why? The simple fact of left wing ideology is that it doesn’t work. Therefore, it ends up being a cult, more interested in power by any means rather than power for good.

History is an incredible teacher. Sadly, we’ve lost the plot in ensuring our future generations understand the sacrifices and achievements of this great nation of ours. It’s all well and good getting our kids to memorise the wives of Henry VIII, but have we ever heard of Google? The paragraph below sums up our education system. When will we ever learn?

“Yet only just over two in five secondary school children know the Battle of Britain was fought in the air, according to Lord Ashcroft’s survey. Some 1,007 children aged 11-18 were interviewed face-to-face between 15-23 May 2012. The survey was conducted throughout Great Britain and the results are nationally representative. The research also shows that only one third of children know the Second World War began in 1939, while only one in five know what happened on D-Day.”


  • Definition of “Democide”: It means for governments what murder means for an individual under municipal law. It is the premeditated killing of a person in cold blood, or causing the death of a person through reckless and wanton disregard for their life.


  • He was professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii.