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Time for the Three P’s

The phrase “the three R’s” for reading, writing and arithmetic was clearly formed by someone who was not too hot on the first two of them. They seem to have been able to count to at least three which shows a better hold of the last. These things are meant to be the foundation of a good education, the tools to help each child negotiate their way through life.

It seems to me they are not up to scratch in the world in which we now live. Is it time to replace them with “the three P’s”: psychology, philosophy and politics? These things would give each child the tools they need to understand the world in which they live. Our world is constructed principally as a world of human thought and most of these thoughts – even the ones we think of as integral to “who we are” – are regurgitated: they are someone else’s thoughts.

Of course, a population who were psychologically, philosophically and politically literate would be somewhat harder to control or fool than we are now. It would be quite anarchic if people were offered the power of understanding in this manner.

I guess that is why the politicians won’t ever do it. They would lose their power of hiding and be revealed from behind their veil of secrecy: if people could understand all these complex issues for themselves there would probably be no call for a political class to interpret the world for us.

We have, by and large, done away with the priesthood – at least in Britain where only 7.5% of the population attended a church in 1998. The politicians are the new priests interpreting and presenting our place in the universe for us and creating the rules that guide and steer us.

After the Iraq war debacle I am starting to contemplate taking up church going. It’s a way of voting with my arse. This feels especially right after reading The Downing Street Memo today. Conclusive proof, were it needed, that the US and British Governments had made all the decisions about invading Iraq long before the public presentation of this decision making. That veil of secrecy again.

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