This weekend, it seems that London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not the only Tory with leadership ambitions suffering a meltdown: Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove has gone into wibble overdrive courtesy of the Mail On Sunday, as he declares “I refuse to surrender to the Marxist teachers hell-bent on destroying our schools”.
The face of moderation and reasoned discussion
Gove indulges in an orgy of projection as he lays into a hundred academics – meaning people who might be expected to know a little about education – over a letter they signed and which was published by the Independent, which means a paper read by rotten lefties who are not One Of Us. The signatories are not happy about the imposition of rote learning, among other things.
Zelo Street regulars will recall that I looked at the sad reality behind rote learning some months ago: there is a world of difference between chanting along with times tables and actually having an understanding of basic mathematics. And what of the mountain of facts “Oiky” wants children to learn? Lots of monarchs and dates, but stuff all about ordinary people.
But he wants to get kids spelling properly. Well, whoopee-do. This is, ultimately, worthwhile – but what has to accompany it is an ability to string the words together and understand what they mean. How can there be a writing process when every slip means going back and revisiting the spelling bee? Gove chooses not to address any of these concerns, but instead favours a personal attack.
“The new Enemies Of Promise are a set of politically motivated individuals who have been actively trying to prevent millions of our poorest children getting the education they need” he blusters, before again attacking East Durham for “poor educational performance”, despite never having been there. And there has to be talk of “dumbing down”, because, well, everyone else at the Mail says so.
Coming to get a school near you
And then “Oiky” turns his quacking on the signatories to the Independent letter, telling “they seem more interested in valuing Marxism”. How does he reach this conclusion? Well, one of them (out of 100) writes “from a classical Marxist perspective”. And two of them (out of 100) mentioned Marxism once. For this, all 100 are condemned as part of “The Blob”.
What that? “Oiky” is too young to have been around for the debut of the legendary horror flick starring a young Steve McQueen (so young he is billed as “Steven”). Perhaps he saw it on a re-run and it frightened him? Alas, no: this is Gove’s idea of frightening Mail readers by using the term to describe all those academics who think he’s a useless prat hell-bent on screwing around with children’s education.
And playing them, rather than the ball, is so much easier than answering questions.