Award winning columnist Suzanne Moore says of Michael Gove that for the Conservative hardman in charge of our education policy, the three Rs are rigour, rightwing history and rote learning. This is from the Guardian…
My youngest is part of his [Michael Gove’s] wondrous experiment. Hers will be the first year to do an Ebacc. Her teachers do not know what it is – and that’s because they haven’t been told. I don’t believe all state school teachers are bad, though some are, but I know that most of the people who think that educate their children privately.
The curriculum we have seen so far prioritises exams and regards creative subjects as soft options. Try to explain that design, for instance, is an exercise in problem-solving that involves lateral thinking, that music engages the same parts of the brain as maths and poetry, and these Conservative hardmen have no answer. Their three Rs are rigour, rightwing history and rote learning.
The apotheosis of this educational lockdown is the academy/free school movement, basically madrasas for the middle classes.
The glitch in all this are the results, which are looking patchy. Some of the academies I have seen are brilliant and producing good results. But not all.
This is actually about centralisation and a massive landgrab by Gove. If more schools go this way, he will have to take on the teaching unions. If teachers get paid less or indeed are entitled to teach with no knowledge of child development or theories of learning, Gove will indeed have shaken up the system.
Selection is fairly open now. The academies chuck out their disruptive kids by the second term. Disruption can mean anything from very disturbed behaviour to crimes against uniform to socialising in groups of more than three. Discipline not difference is key.
Emotional intelligence, imagination, the crossing over of art and science – who cares? You want to express yourself. Then you need to go to private school.
Innovation, design as social solution, art as a cognitive process that bleeds into a bigger culture? Forget it. Oxbridge is the goal. Grades are not a means to an end, but for many kids the end of hope. You didn’t get cello lessons in the womb? Sorry kid, your cultural capital is in the red.
Having dealt with state education for more than 20 years, I despair. No wonder teachers are demoralised. When someone such as Nick Clegg, whose kid will have every privilege already going, tells us that state school is not good enough for his son, what does that tell us exactly?
Of course some state schools are flawed. But I would prefer to know about it from those who use them, which is not the media and political class these days.
Right now our kids are being subject to a massive ideological experiment for which there is no proof and little demand. Why bring in the Ebacc at 16? And change A-levels again? Parents may be fooled by too much homework, dreadful uniforms and a few IT lessons, but look further please.
Gove is a hawkish new-con. If he were in power, you’d expect him to be bombing Iran, particularly if you have read his book Celsius 7/7. The education system is now his battlefield. He is a building a system fit for the 19th century. In the name of standards, the poor will continue to be deprived. Even of imagination.
Exams are everything – and I love an exam. I never went to school but could cram, pass with flying colours and forget it all the next day. That’s probably why I have this job and Gove has his. But I cannot forgive him the collateral damage of this government’s hawkish education policy. For that collateral damage is children’s hopes and dreams. My children’s lives are being trampled on here in the name of what? Whatever it is, it is not what I call education.