Dear Mr Gove ………..

Sometimes a newspaper article strikes a chord with its readers to the extent that they feel a need to comment. One such article is today’s piece about Michael Gove in the Guardian, written by Suzanne Moore. At the point of publishing this post, it has received more than 1100 responses and comments beneath the article, which is a significant amount:

Please read the article in full as it’s a trenchant and heartfelt piece.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/30/michael-gove-destroying-school-system

We we’d like to thank Ms. Moore for her thoughts on schools and education in the era  of Michael Gove because through this writing she has expressed the concerns and opinions of many education professionals and also parents who don’t have an avenue through which to voice these issues so prominently. What is most interesting about the article is that this is essentially the viewpoint of a parent.

Suzanne Moore is fed up. She says that Gove has the 3R’s at the centre of his policies for education – “rigour, right-wing history and rote learning”: sadly accurate. She says that he is determined to control education and reminds us once more about the appalling hypocrisy of spouting about localisation when his entire free school and academies policy points directly the other way – to his centralised control.

She rightly points out that one of the biggest concerns about Gove is that he’s far more ideologically inclined than the Prime Minister, for instance. He actually believes in this anachronistic, elitist, creatively barren form of education, and those who think differently can just be damned.

“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.”

“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.” 

Well said, Ms Moore. Exactly so.

We also loved her comments about exams.

“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.

Exactly so again. There are some people who love exams but what about their real learning? Cramming for an exam, learning examination tricks and methods IS NOT LEARNING. Sorry for the capitalisation, but this doesn’t seem to be getting through to people.

However, the writing that really strikes that chord mentioned above is when Suzanne Moore explains how she feels her own children are being used as political guinea pigs.

“Right now our kids are being subjected 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.”

(As regular readers of our blog will know, we are actually very committed to change and we feel that a reinvention of education is needed, but not in a piecemeal reformation way that reactively skirts over the wider issues of what is the purpose of education, and not at the expense of the young people who are unfortunate enough to be caught in this slanging match about their qualifications which leaves them desperately trying to muster up a reason to study for an examination system that everyone says is rubbish.)

“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.”

And neither can we forgive him. As we have pointed out recently, 16 year old children have now been told that their GCSEs are meaningless. Once they have done these exams, they will embark on an A-Level course that universities are now saying aren’t fit for purpose (whose purpose?). Those who don’t do A-Levels will embark on a course that is deemed even less worthwhile because we haven’t got an appropriate skills and vocational learning process. Of course, there’ll be none of this leaving school business either because the statutory leaving age rise to 18 kicks in this year.

This is immoral. It’s immoral to have a compulsory school leaving age raised to 18 without an education system that enables appropriate and beneficial learning for the many who don’t want to take A-levels.

We are in a difficult situation here. We need a reinvention of education. We need a revolution and ideally this would be a slow, considered revolution.  However, Mr Gove’s ideology is on our doorstep – NOW. We need to act NOW. His reforms aren’t insurmountable and they’re not going to be so established that they can’t be changed once more, but can the teaching profession and our children cope with more politically rather than pedagogically driven reform?

Get the politicians away from the governance of content of the curriculum and the means through which teachers teach and students learn.

If everyone who reads this article (and the “Dear Mr Gove” letters by Michael Rosen in the Guardian) and is moved to write a real letter to Mr Gove, surely even he would have to take note. This needs to be done now, as soon as his imminent National Curriculum statement is made.

3Di Associates would be more than happy to coordinate such an active and engaged response to Mr Gove’s ideological hammering of real education. We need to revolt against this revolting inequality and the destruction of the creative and imaginative futures that our children and young people are entitled to.

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About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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