In the United Kingdom most of the current pressures on schools centre round the raising of attainment as measured in public tests or examina tions, largely though not exclusively in order to improve industry's eco nomic efficiency and national competitiveness. This is at once superficial, counter-productive, and profoundly ignorant. It is superficial in the sense that it fails to understand that technical solutions to problems that demand a more comprehensive engagement with meaning and purpose lead to an even greater frustration and a deeper sense of despair. It is counter-productive in the sense that overemphasis on an uninspiring, impoverished view of schooling will alienate teachers and students alike and thus turn out to be self-defeating. It is fundamentally ignorant in the sense that, as John Macmurray observed in a paper originally published in
1932: 'We have immense power, and immense resources; we worship effi ciency and success; and we do not know how to live finely ' (Macmurray, 1935, p. 76, [my italics]) . Furthermore, even in its own terms of economic efficiency and competitiveness, recent work indicates that the connection between educational attainment and economic performance is far from unproblematic (Robinson 1998) .