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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Prize for All Must Have Prizes
This book should be required reading for every teacher (whether at school or college) and politican in the country. It should also be read by anyone who is interested in, worried by, or cares for, our society. It should most of all be read by parents. The evidence the author presents is truly shocking in places. She explains the background to the current educational mess...
Published on March 6, 2005 by WhitePride

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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing original under the sun
Melanie Phillips is right about a lot of things: the culture of egalitarian equal outcomes of state education in Britain has blighted the lives of a generation, afflicting pupils of all abilities (undoubtedly - ever since Anthony Crossland declared he wanted to 'destroy ever f**king grammar school in England'). Family breakdown causes emotional disturbance in children and...
Published on March 13, 2008 by Sirin


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Prize for All Must Have Prizes, March 6, 2005
This review is from: ALL MUST HAVE PRIZES (Hardcover)
This book should be required reading for every teacher (whether at school or college) and politican in the country. It should also be read by anyone who is interested in, worried by, or cares for, our society. It should most of all be read by parents. The evidence the author presents is truly shocking in places. She explains the background to the current educational mess concisely and wisely.

For anyone who doubts the value of this book, I would say, just watch the constant dumbing down that goes hand in hand with our failed education system. Once you've read it, you'll understand why!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very one-sided but scores a lot of direct hits, April 30, 2007
This review is from: All Must Have Prizes (Paperback)
This trenchant 1996 polemic against the modern style of education in Britain is one of the most one-sided books I have ever read. But that does not mean it can be ignored.

Obviously the detailed examples relate to Britain and not to other countries such as the USA. However, fashions in ideas, and teaching methods, can and do cross the Atlantic in both directions and the arguments debated in the book are likely to be relevant in many parts of the world.

I have to start this review with a major qualification: neither the school where I am about to conclude 20 years as a governor, nor the school which my own children currently attend, bear much resemblance to the picture painted in this book.

However, I did see hints of this picture in the school where I was previously a governor. More to the point, I have met far too many parents, teachers, and employers who do recognise the stories in this book as a description of what has been inflicted on their children, pupils, or new employees, to lightly dismiss the arguments presented by Melanie Phillips as a description of what went wrong in the late 20th century in too many British schools.

From the newpaper articles by the author and her close intellectual ally, former head of the schools inspectorate Phillip Woodhead, I am sure she would argue that these problems have not been solved - and sadly she probably has a point.

The author would now be considered on matters of education to be a conservative with a small c - this means someone of traditional views, who does not necessarily also support the Conservative party, with a large C. A conservative is sometimes described as "A liberal who has been mugged by reality". Melanie Phillips started out as a "liberal" (e.g. left wing) journalist on the Guardian, which is the main left-liberal newspaper in Britain, and back then she supported all the ideas which were fashionable for "progressives" at the time. On one or two issues she still does, witness the sideswipes at Mrs Thatcher which occasionally occur in the book.

However, Melanie Phillips changed her position from arch-liberal to arch conservative when she observed at first hand how liberal and progressive teaching methods were failing children. The book is full of examples.

I cannot accept that this book is a full and fair picture of every school in Britain at the time it was written or subsequently. It does not describe the schools I know best. But the book does score a very large number of direct hits on things which have gone wrong with some schools and makes convincing arguments about how complete nonsense from some parts of the British educational establishment have made matters worse.

And part of the reason the good schools of which I have personal experience have been successful and are not like the schools described in "All must have prizes" is that they have had excellent, confident, hands-on headmasters and headmistresses who know when to ignore rubbish from the national education ministry (DFES) or the local schools department at county hall.

If you want to have an understanding of the issues around education in Britain, you may or may not agree with this book but you ought to read it.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melanie Phillips Upsets Bigots, December 16, 2006
This review is from: All Must Have Prizes (Paperback)
Shouldn't one actually say why, one thinks someone's book is "rubbish", rather than just "expressing one's sentiments. I have yet to read Melanie Phillips book but I did hear her interviewed on radio and she was rational, reasoned and fairminded in her criticisms of the abandonment of standards in contemporary schooling. I'd give Phillips and open minded read.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing original under the sun, March 13, 2008
By 
Sirin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All Must Have Prizes (Paperback)
Melanie Phillips is right about a lot of things: the culture of egalitarian equal outcomes of state education in Britain has blighted the lives of a generation, afflicting pupils of all abilities (undoubtedly - ever since Anthony Crossland declared he wanted to 'destroy ever f**king grammar school in England'). Family breakdown causes emotional disturbance in children and adults (er, with you there Mel). Pupils need to learn proper grammar usage in order to read and write and speak properly (of course). Trendy lefty educationalists, often the people who have either never been in a classroom, or couldn't cope with teaching. are ruining the schooling system (definitely).

However you can glean all this by reading the chapter headings. I read the book and was remarkably uninspired by the tedious, biscuit dry, hectoring prose. Come on Melanie - if you are so intelligent and highly calibrated yourself - show off some fireworks and write a masterpiece along the lines of the great educationalist Allan Bloom's 'Closing of the American Mind' which really investigates the mediocrity of the modern soul. Not this single dimensional, hyperbolic diatribe, which will provide succour to the wide lawns and narrow minds class of Middle England, but not much else.
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8 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What IS this woman talking about?, June 2, 2006
By 
Big Chris "Folkie" (A Place Called England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All Must Have Prizes (Paperback)
More nonsense from Ms Phillips, who seems to like pontificating in ignorance. Perhaps it's because people buy her rubbish. Or at least people abroad do. In Britain, of course, we KNOW it bears no relation to reality.

As for the other reviewers, well, Whitepride's very name says it all.
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All Must Have Prizes
All Must Have Prizes by Melanie Phillips (Paperback - April 3, 1997)
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