Michael Gove:- Looking for an old England.

I will admit right off the bat I’m not a fan of Michael Gove, before we even get to how wrong his latest hissy fit was we need to really look at him. Since the Toryeducation twitter profile went offline, no doubt because of the truth rumours that it was run by one of his closest advisors to smear critics, it’s not completely safe.

Go ahead, gaze on Ozymandias’ works, and despair. For he has sapped morale in teachers to a level Alan Pardew would be envious of while maintaining an aura of “self serving smug prick”

And on the pedestal these words were written. “Teachers know nothing”

He’s provoked the ire of historians and academics for his narrative history of how great britain is. Soon kids will be able to tell you what year the glorious revolution was, but nothing much about why it happened or its effects. For Gove it seems, being able to recite a date and a few facts is enough to get by in life. Who needs the ability to look at all the sources and come to their own conclusion.

In many ways he is straight out of an Edwardian book for boys. His idea of education comes from those long summer days before the war when the Empire and King and Country were important. His latest speech however is just nauseating. From the complete lies about History pupils being told to sort the leaders of the Nazi party into Mr Men and how children shouldn’t read Twilight or play Angry birds but should be reading Middlemarch and coding.

He bemoans the fact that “an inspector calls” is still the most used play for drama pupils. Not because it’s dry, boring and tedious (it really is, my English Lit books prove it) but because it’s too ‘modern.’ He’d rather children tackle the romantic poets, learn the great history of the United Kingdom, from brave Boudicca to a prosperous Roman colony, a shining light of learning in a dark age to the “greatest Empire in the world, civilizing the noble savages of the dark continent and bringing democracy and industrialisation, commerce and christianity to the far flung parts of the world.

When you consider that Gove’s advisor for the history curriculum is none other than gaffe prone Niall Ferguson (another man transplanted from the 1900’s) it’s no surprise the Mau Mau and other dark sides of the Empire are simply washed away.

What makes Gove more dangerous is his part about how Children are taught History.

““The following steps are a useful framework: Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…). Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.””

Gove is using this to attack modern teaching methods and then remarks
“I am familiar with the superb historical account Richard J Evans gives of the rise, rule and ruin of the Third Reich and I cannot believe he could possibly be happy with reducing the history of Germany’s darkest years to a falling out between Mr Tickle and Mr Topsy-Turvy.”

Except whoever discovered that omitted a few key parts. While it is a lesson plan it’s not used in state schools, it’s for the iGCSE which is based on the O-Level, an exam Gove is desperate to bring back. Not only that but it’s for 15-16 year olds to teach Nazism to children in years 3 and 4, in other words 8-9 year olds, who I suspect may struggle with Weimar Germany, reparations, re-armament and enabling acts.

When I was at school we’d sit in the room, listen for half an hour as the teacher gave us the bare bones of a particular topic then we’d read a rather poorly written text book (and in later years I discovered, completely wrong) and answer the tasks. And that was it, no fancy “Imagine you’re hitler” or reading all of Gibbon’s ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ and yet I’m still madly in love with the subject. I read books like a hungry man eats pie and not only that, I play Angry Birds, read Tom Clancy and not only that…..

I don’t need to lie, distort or set up a twitter account to defend myself.


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