I am reading The Secret Barrister having picked up his book at Waterstones. I have been following him on twitter for some time and have been fascinated to learn more about how the law works, or doesn’t. What has struck me though is that I have managed to get to the ripe old age of sixty with only a smattering of how the legal process works in this country. Thankfully I have never been involved in its machinations, apart from a speeding fine in front of the magistrate when I was seventeen, and hopefully I never will.
I ask myself then why wasn’t I taught this at school? In amongst the Kings and Queens of England and the declension of obscure verbs, surely there was time to teach us about the things that really matter in life. It’s not just me though. You don’t have to look very far into the media to realise that many people simply don’t understand how the things that affect them deeply on a day to day basis work.
Here then is my curriculum for living in the modern world. It should not take too much time out of existing studies and would be of enormous help to people in living their lives. Indeed it could well be life changing. Every student leaving secondary school should have a basic understanding of:
Politics: the difference between local, regional, national and international politics, how parliament and the lords works, the decision making process and how laws are made, the electoral system, how elections work and what your MP does, voting and the party system.
Law: how the process works and the players involved, the difference between criminal and civil law, the relationship between the judiciary, the police and parliament, international law, your basic basic rights.
Money: the different meaning of money, earning interest, making investments, inflation, exchange rates and currencies, stocks and shares, bonds, mortgages.
Employment, your basic rights, health and safety, working hours, remuneration, holiday entitlement, sickness, maternity, redundancy.
I’m sure there are more. Most of these things I have had to learn about outside of my formal education. This is such as wasted opportunity and would lead to better citizenship and a more engaged people.