Grammar Schools, Science Technology Engineering and Maths [STEM] and a Smaller State.

UKIP London Assembly Member David Kurten AM delivered an excellent, upbeat and forward thinking speech to the Party Conference, drawing focus on a key policy area. David spoke well on UKIP’s  Grammar School policy recently adopted by Theresa May. David spoke of the importance of nurturing a culture of excellence in education; he spoke from his experiences as a professional teacher. The denouncement of Political Correctness and the defence of free thought and expression were also strong themes delivered with style and a smile.

Problems abound with the UK education system, (Michael Gove’s ‘Blob’) from early years right through to University level. The UK rankings in the OECD Literacy and Numeracy Indices makes depressing reading. UKIP needs to continue developing and promoting a common sense policy offer tailored to predictable future needs. We need to teach our young how to think, not what to think.

Young people who study hard in STEM subjects have real opportunities in the future BREXIT Britain, much more so than the opportunities that will be available to Peace Studies, Diversity Studies or Gender Studies graduates. UKIP policies should facilitate STEM and draw back on taxpayer financing for those undergraduate courses which provide no tangible productive or constructive educational benefit.

Specialist  Problem Solvers have Evolved

Take structural engineering for example, an applied science: the art of science as manifested in the built environment. Once it was a sub-specialism of the ‘Master Builder’ or ‘Architect’, yet now it is a distinct profession as time has moved on. Architects once had the knowledge of structural engineering, of gravity, wind, earthquake and fire. They once had understanding of stone, iron, timber, stability, material science, Young and Hooke, Newton and Pascal, Bernoulli and Euler. A divorce occurred. Engineering disciplines separated, structurally, civilly, and accountancy functions were specialised and rebranded to survey quantities (add up). Later, the health and safety ‘professionals’ and regulatory advisors arrived. How the crony corporatists rejoiced as costs to cover statutory burdens grew! The detailed understanding of the science underpinning architecture fell within the custody of the Structural Engineer as their truths became opaque, foggy and mysterious to the artistry and modernity of the New World Architect: a specialist has evolved. This specialist is needed.

The Structural Engineer is the guy who did learn about Newton and Hooke. He did Maths and Physics and Chemistry at school (you’d better hope he did). He studied Statics, Statistics, Statical Determinacy, Mechanisms, Moments of Inertia, Bending Moments, Shear and Axial Forces, Deflections and Torsions, Distortions and Analysis of Force Distributions. He learned to understand the soil below our feet and the rock. The sand, the silt, the clay. How it might move, swell or compress.

The Structural Engineer (you hope) is the guy who knows how to bring all these disparate fields of accrued scientific advancement in our knowledge of the physical world together, to ensure that the building you work in, the roof that keeps the rain from your head when you disembark from the train at Kings Cross, the bridges you cycle over on the way to the cinema in which you enjoy your film, do not through some mathematical oversight, or deficit in knowledge and understanding, collapse and kill you under a tangled wreck of concrete glass and steel. Yes, this specialist is needed.

The scattering and dilution of responsibilities resulting from the continuing drive to specialisation of disciplines opens up a world of potential riches to the professional problem solver. These specialists need a thorough and rigorous education, one which is not being adequately provided under Labour and Conservative stewardship.

Less Government Spending. More Private Capital Investment. Sound Money Please!

Once there was a Brunel or a Telford, a Duke of Wellington of his own endeavour, unleashed and dismissive of interference, he got on with achieving his objective. He was backed by private money, sound money, often unwisely and at substantial loss to the investor. Acts of Parliament permitted and facilitated these constructions of the industrial revolution. Private money financed them, not tithes on the poor.

Now there is the Architect, the Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, the Civil Engineer, the Highways Engineer, the Water Engineer, the Quantity Surveyor, the Contractor, the Planning Supervisor, the Health and Safety advisor, the Environmental Engineer, the Planning Officer, the Heritage geezer, the Bat protection Officer, and Uncle Tom Cobley … otherwise known as ‘The Design Team’. And you don’t see the ‘finance guys’ – the Developers, the Insurers the Bankers and the Quangocrats.  State finance, profligacy, fractional reserve banking and continuous budget deficits, free our New World Architects – our governmental social engineers – from the inconveniences of understanding feasibility, utility and cost benefit.

Adam Smith gave us lessons in the division of labour, but to apply his theory to division of intellectual labour can reduce efficiency and economy, especially when the economic interests of the disparate intellects are not mutually entwined and there is a vulnerable purse available – that of the taxpayer in the hands of a profligate Government. UKIP policies should promote a financial prudence and a contraction of the state.

Opportunity for Young STEM Students

Educated specialists, whether in an engineering discipline or some other field, such as pharmaceuticals or agriculture will be professionals that a prosperous future will demand. UKIP educational policy should reflect this and equip our young accordingly.

There’s a world of work out there for students of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics in a whole variety of fields, Structural Engineering being but one. By focusing educational resources at the development of young minds in free, independent thought and providing a rigorous STEM curriculum, by pursuing policies that provide stable,  sound financial structures with fewer resources directed by the state – then our young may attain the tools to become the creators of their more prosperous futures.


Photo by Gurit Composites

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