Joanna Lumley: ‘the British don’t respect education’

The actress tells Radio Times she believes Britain needs to take lessons from other countries about teaching children

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Actress Joanna Lumley has launched a passionate attack on British society’s attitude to education and its “slack moral codes for children”.

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In an interview in the new issue of Radio Times, Lumley told Rosie Millard, “Nowadays, children find it laughably amusing to shoplift and steal. We smile when they download information from the internet and lazily present it as their own work. We allow them to bunk off school and bring in sick notes.”

And although Lumley’s immediate inspiration comes from her own boarding school education and the moral code of the Enid Blyton story The Cheat she is reading on BBC Radio 4 next week, she suggests Britain should look to less developed countries for lessons in educating children.

“We don’t respect education. Not at all. Not like in Africa or China, where it is hugely respected… In Ethiopia, for example, you might find a seven-year-old expected to take 15 goats out into the fields for the whole day with only a chapatti to eat and his whistle. Why are we so afraid to give our children responsibilities like this?”

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And Lumley’s ideas don’t end there. “I think laptops should be banned from schools,” she goes on. “Until you can prove you can add up on your fingers or think independently in your head, you have learnt nothing… We have taken our foot off the education pedal and I don’t think it makes anyone happy.”