E.T. Phone Home….


Q:  What have cars made from the 1920s by the Morris Garages company, an Extra-Terrestrial being, a Decision-feedback Equaliser and a Networked Computer got in common? Oh, and a Blob from outer space, but we’ll come to that later.

The answer is – not a lot, unless of course you take their initials, M.G. and E.T. and put them together in the DfE and ask them to re-write the NC. Which, it increasingly seems, is exactly what they did. All by themselves, with no help at all from anyone else – presumably lest they be accused of cheating, which would never do, would it?

First the rumour turned into speculation, which nearly transformed into a possible fact on Wikipedia, before becoming what will very probably be an urban myth. And the rumour was that, dissatisfied with the work of all the special advisors he had appointed, Morris Garages actually wrote the revised Networked Computer History curriculum himself as part of his weekend homework assignment.

And then there’s been the rather awkward question of who it actually was who put together the daft draft proposals for Design and Technology, which has led to a series of increasingly convincing conspiracy theories. It was always fairly obvious from the terminology and language used that it was probably written by someone who had themselves had a fairly unfortunate teenage experience of a typical ‘Can’t Do That’ department in the late 1980s and early 90s in which girls did the cooking, arranged the flowers and sewed on buttons while the boys made and mended things in a jolly useful sort of way. Which became an even more interesting theory to consider when Extra Terrestrial revealed that she had herself studied D&T at her former Yorkshire girls’ grammar school, at exactly this sort of time. And there was further evidence on her website that she indeed comes from another planet, where everything is simply wonderful down on Jollity Farm:

Anyway, in case you missed it, the good news is that E.T. has publicly stated in a recent commons debate that the daft D&T proposals (recently appropriately described as being ‘unfit for consultation’), will be the subject of ‘serious consultation’, and that this time the advice of DATA and other people who actually know something about the subject will be considered. Well, a bit anyway. Maybe. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps….

And in a confused and misleading speech earlier in the week, E.T. made some confusing and misleading horticultural references:

“Government has a part to play in setting out the trellises and marking out the footpaths. How the garden grows is for schools to decide. And in order for teachers to be able to give life to the garden, government has to give them freedom: freedom from excessively prescriptive top-down diktats and the freedom to innovate.”

Before going on to highlight the importance of the relationship between D&T and computers:

“Design and technology offer a reminder of the interaction between subjects. Computers have a central role in design and technology these days and our new, more challenging computing programme of study is designed to prepare pupils to work in the cutting-edge industries of the future.”

Hmm – now here’s a thought. Perhaps D&T and IT should be combined into one area. Now what shall we call it? Ah I know – how about ‘Technology‘? Extra Terrestrial, even if you won’t phone home, maybe the time has at least come to phone a friend?

Meanwhile Morris Garages was brought up sharply on the motorway by a letter to the papers written by a ton-up of 100 academics who hoped to overtake his fact-filled curriculum by coming up fast on the left-hand lane. So MG quickly checked his right-wing mirror and came to the conclusion that obviously these must simply be the ‘wrong sort of academics’. Or, as the Daily Mail, drawing on the full might of its great intellectual wisdom, cleverly called them on Friday – ‘nitwits‘. But by the Mail on Sunday MG was clearly pressing his right foot down hard on the accelerator pedal, driving completely out-of-control and shouting ‘Poop-poop!’ while attacking the 100 academics as being ‘The new Enemies Of Promise…who seem more interested in valuing Marxism, revering jargon and fighting excellence.’ and imaginatively identifying them as the so-called ‘Blob’ –  which actually turns out to stand not for something from outer space, but for Big Learning Organisational Bureaucracies that have absolutely nothing to do with Marxist Enemies of Promise. But, as someone pointed out on Twitter, perhaps the most alarming indication of the current decline in standards was that the Mail on Sunday’s editor missed the opportunity to use the headline: ‘Marx out of a hundred?’

Now All Change Please! had previously assumed that the purpose of MG’s crusade was to provide more opportunities for everyone to become an academic, whether they wanted to or not.  But it now seems our children are not just all destined to become failed academics, but failed right-wing academics. And MGs inaccurate and nonsensical rhetoric is daily gaining the increasing support of the masses who fail to grasp that his real agenda involves a great deal more than simply teaching children how to read, write and do sums. Oh, and learn how to cook and grow their own food.

Meanwhile, back at the Department for Education, it is thought that officials recently discovered that in fact the initials DfE actually stood for something quite different: Design focused Evaluation, which it seems is concerned with the effectiveness of constructive alignment in an educational course.  However, they are obviously trying to keep very quiet about this in case anyone else finds out.

Do say:  My life’s work is ‘intergenerational ethnography of the intersection of class, place, education and school resistance’

Don’t say:  ‘We are Blob’

Background MG Badge Image credit: Brian Snelson