Education: undoing is our undoing.

31 Jan

Sigmund Freud had a fair amount to say about undoing things. He suggested that such actions could be part of the ego’s defence, motivated by dislike or even hate. Well how about the tit-for-tat desperation of politicians in power to reverse or undo what has been done by the other lot when they held the conch?

It’s hard to see beyond the ego of Michael Gove as he rubbishes GCSEs and drives forward with the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) while the Commons select committee are telling him to Calm Down Dear. Predictably the NUT are first on to the barricades foaming with the indignation of the self-righteously underprivileged. Next the anti-selection lobby, particularly those who were educated privately or at grammar schools,  dust down their indignant phrases of injustice and social stigmata from days of yore. Others pile in like boys joing the fight in those glorious playground bundles, now outlawed by Health and Safety, the anti-bullying lobby and God knows who else. Gove all jutting lower lip and arrogant certainty ploughs on. Has anyone thought about asking the teachers – or even the pupils?

I don’t mean those teacher- advisors who sit on quangos and pick up a nice daily allowance, freebies and time off from their real jobs so they can swan around in Russell Square feeling important. I don’t mean the plethora of experts from this or that University’s Department for Education – guys and girls who have spent years in meaningful research in Oslo or Rio or Shanghai during the endllessly long summer holidays and return to tell us we must be more like others. After all the Finns are streets ahead of us in Maths and cross-country skiing. No – I mean the teachers and pupils who are teaching and learning in their thousands up and down the country, right now.

I only taught for 35 years so what do I know? Every time significant change occurred in my school, colleagues would so rarely say What a good idea! Rather the drudge of revising schemes of work, chucking out text books and worksheets, endless training meetings to discuss and implement change within and without school…and all for what? Some marginal shift which might benefit one group and disadvantage another – and the certainty that what goes round, comes round – and square one is a place that all education policies get back to.

The pupils are now used, of course, to being told that they aren’t as clever as previous generations, exams being easier, coursework easily plagiarised and so on. They sigh knowing that all attainment and achievement will be ‘put in perspective’ by some politician like Gove wanting to make political capital out of ‘declining standards’, hell-bent on undoing what the other lot did.

The real winners? Publishers and exam boards who rub their hands with glee when the system is ripped up. The quality control quangos love it too – well-paid consultancy and monitoring going on years into the future before the EBacc is undone and then the gravy train rolls on.

The losers – teachers, pupils, parents. Systemic change comes at a huge price and it is our undoing.

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3 Responses to “Education: undoing is our undoing.”

  1. Diana Riddick January 31, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Absolutely spot on. The pointlessness of the proposals makes me inarticulte with rage – how fortunate we are to have you to do it for us.

  2. Dai Griffiths February 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    The problem with politicians is that they are not around long enough to pick up the pieces, or even be get stained by the mud that they throw. How come you suddenly become the specialist once you become a minister? When you mess up you are just moved to another department.

  3. apple iphone 4 � April 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that
    over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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