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Thursday 9 May 2019

Speed Learn

    Described by Number 12 as “Thus a miniaturized course can be projected through the sublimator at a speed thousands of times faster than the eye can record. It is imposed directly onto the cortex of the brain and is, with occasional boosts, virtually indelible.”
    In order for Speed Learn to be operated successfully, the students are instructed to return to their cottages before each of the Professor’s lectures, because students must be sat watching their television sets throughout the transmission of each lecture. This educational experiment may well have succeeded had it not been for the intervention of Number 6, aided and abetted by Number 12. As it is the experiment failed, and yet who would have thought that an educational programme could be developed, one which delivers lectures into the nations front rooms. The Open University {established in 1969} allowing students to study in their own time, taking advantage of the technological revolution, utilising both TV and radio to broadcast its courses. A “university of the air” was controversial, the educational establishment along with the tabloid press were opposed to the idea that anyone could get a university qualification by watching television.
    Considering the dangers of mixing fact with fiction, although art is known to imitate life from time to time, and ‘the Prisoner’ did predict certain technologies. It could be that through the failure of Speed Learn the Open University was born. It is sometimes the case that when an experiment fails, it brings about the development of a lesser technique, in this case a lesser educational approach. And yet at the same time, planning for the Open University began in 1965 to 1967. So, might the use of Speed Learn in ‘The General’ {a favourite episode of McGoohan’s} be a parody on the Open University, in order to exaggerate the dangers of gaining an education through watching a television. But I offer that merely as a suggestion.
    At the time of writing the script for ‘The General’ Lewis Greifer’s son was taking his school exams, and is said to have been a blast of rage against learning by rote. He was quite angry that there was no room for imagination, or indeed innovative thinking in what they were doing.

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