At The Schools Network conference during the last week, Mr Gove’s much less controversial twin brother turned up to give a speech.
This time there was no talk from Gove of the great philosophers or elitism, and no bible-bashing. Apart from a rather poorly judged ‘spontaneous idea in the back of the car on his way there, off-the-cuff’ moment which was meant to suggest that, along with all us plebeian teachers, he regularly watched and took a great interest in X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent and even knew the difference between Simon Cowell and Gary Barlow, there was little to aggravate even the most disruptive amongst us. We were promised that, using new technologies, ‘children’s learning would be liberated from the dead hand of the past’ – though one suspects this largely involves regular attendance at the Kubla Khan Academy. Mr Gove’s much smarter twin brother even went on to endorse the conference theme that ‘every child has got talent‘, though cleverly without mentioning the implications of the EBacc and the demise of so-called soft-subjects, or his actual belief that of course academic children have more talent than others.
I suspect the two Goves – or there may be even three or four, or an infinite number – carefully match their speeches just a little bit too closely to the views of the particular audience they are addressing (eg a Russell Group University, the Daily Mail), with the result the audiences they are not speaking to at that moment are enraged by what he says. The problem is that this presents an impression of him as series of confusing and contradictory multiple personalities. It is starting to make All Change Please! wonder if one day he might have to try to explain to us that he “is but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (Hamlet Act II, Scene ii )
Which would probably reveal something of the limited extent of his D&T experience when he was at school.