Re: Human behaviour
"What we did have, however, was a much higher standard of teaching and teachers."
You can't say that. You weren't there, you still aren't, and it wouldn't help anyway.
*) You *think* you were there, but in fact you had the mind of a child at the time and were totally incapable of determining whether the teacher was doing a good job, either for you or for others. Misty-eye recollections don't count and the statistics would suggest that when you were young about a quarter of all pupils emerged from a decade of full-time education with no qualifications to speak of.
*) Most parents *still* don't have the relevant skills (in any given subject) or experience (of what happens in the classroom) to judge whether teachers are doing a good job now. If you are good at something, you've usually no idea how to teach it to someone who isn't. If you were bad at something (and presumably don't do it anymore) you never even knew what it is you would be trying to teach. Your ignorance is stupendous and if you are half as smart as you think you are then you should accept this with good grace.
*) You are just you and (probably for the best) the system is also trying to reach people it didn't bother with 50 years ago, such as dyslexics.
*) The system is different to the extent that no scientist worth of the title would accept that exam performances can be meaningfully compared. Exams now aren't covering the same material and aren't trying to measure the same outcomes. You are free to argue that they are covering the wrong material and/or rewarding the wrong things, but you must surely accept that this makes them incomparable.
*) Exam performances are not the only (or, perhaps, even the most important) measure of whether a school has educated anyone. I don't think I would respect the intelligence of anyone who seriously argued that they were, but I can't be certain because I also don't think I've ever met one.
Basically, we haven't a flipping clue and probably won't ever get one. Education is Hard.
I do know, however, that a lot of research has been done by psychologists, trying out different teaching methods on groups of children using controls as best one can given the ridiculous variability of children and environmental factors, and that this research *is* used to inform teaching methods. It's one reason why teaching methods change with the seasons. As one with a scientific background, I find it hard to argue against trying to do such research and trying to incorporate the findings into classroom practice. (The great pity is that the politicians interfere with the process so much, regularly demanding that the new methods are abandoned in favour of whatever happened when they were kids.)