Approaching the fire season, there are confusing signs from the authorities here. On the one hand, the forests are being patrolled by vigilant army groups and heat-sensitive-cameras have been installed which can ‘see’ a cigarette butt At 10km. on the other, the papers are full of pictures of places where work has not been done to ensure a safety zone by cutting down trees and clearing undergrowth. Fingers, therefore, need to remain crossed.
Madeleine Albright is quoted as saying that, to understand how the EU works, you have to be either a genius or French. Mr. Sarkozy may be both but gives the impression of either not knowing – or not caring about – how things are done ‘properly’. Allegedly, his impression of a dwarf on speed is starting to annoy his partners, as his foreign policy initiatives – such as the Mediterranean Union – clash head-on with EU policies. I blame it on global warming and predict it will end in tears. For everyone.
My Spanish-speaking neighbour is horrified at the prospect of her kids being taught in both Gallego and Spanish. She stressed she understands enough of the former to be able to deal with her Gallego-speaking patients but, on the other hand, could never write an essay in the subject. And she added that the policy of favouring Catalan in the Balearic Islands had increased ‘scholastic failure’ there. Now, a market research sample of one is, as they say in business circles, quite useless. This is true whether the sample is me, my neighbour or a Galician teacher. But I thought of my conversation with her when I read this tale in El Mundo on Sunday:- A young couple left the Spanish mainland to work in Mallorca. After a few months, it became clear their child, who’d achieved outstanding results back home, was failing all his exams. The reason was he couldn’t understand the Catalan in which the lessons were given. The father tried to discuss this with the teacher but the latter refused to speak in Spanish. So the parents decided to take the child outside the state system, only to find that the post-May six-party government, which includes a few nationalist parties, is changing the law in their regard come September next. The little wrinkle in this story is that the family hales from Galicia, where similar developments are taking place.
My own view is that, whenever politicians tinker with education in the furtherance of socio-political aims, there’s at least one generation of pupils which pays the price for this. Readers can [and will] disagree but, as I say, without the evidence which none of us yet has, no one can prove anything. And none of us is going to convince the other. In the end, each of us has to do what we think is right for our kids. Which is why so many of the world’s Socialists send theirs to private schools.
My other oft-stated view is that exaggerated nationalism is divisive and economically illiterate.