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My wife and I were discussing education at the weekend. This is part of the commonplace parental obsession with the subject, but also focused on our mutual interest in the role of the professions in this process. My wife is a GP medic. We came to the conclusion that much of our current system of school education in the UK seems well designed to do two things:

1) Discover what a person doesn't do well;

2) Get them to do more of it.

It seems to us that the role of education is to do the opposite i.e. find out what a person does do well and get them to excel at it.

This is, of course, the opportunity that professional education could also provide. I'm not convinced it does. It's achievement is to set a 'hurdle' standard that must be exceeded (but only just) to ensure a person can practice. Sufficiency is, therefore the goal. As with school education, excelling does not come into it.

Is it a surprise that few people are really good? Unless sixth forms and universities can instill the idea that to excel is good, where does this happen? And even if they can, is that enough?