It’s beginning to seem that Weird Uncle Govie has a bit of a thing about wars. Following his claims about the purpose of the First World War, he has now drawn reference to the Cold War and his grand plan to knock down the Berlin Wall, i.e., the divide between communist-led state and the capitalist-led private schools. When entering a school, Govie says, one should not be able to tell if it is state or privately funded. Until, that is, one counts the number of children in each classroom. And observes the state of repair of the school buildings, the lack of playing fields and the absence of boarding facilities, cadet force, a good rowing club, pupils wearing straw hats, etc.
Govie has, of course, completely misunderstood the situation. It’s not that we want our state schools to produce the sort of Gove-alike arrogant, self-opinionated, over-confident children that many private schools do – it’s that we want private schools to produce normal, well-adjusted children that will fit in with the rest of society and not assume they are automatically going to end up running the country.
And then there has been his own private war against Ofsted, in which in order to try and disguise his political agenda he rather foolishly suggested that a refreshing change of leadership every three or so years was a very good thing, which immediately resulted in teachers up and down the country frantically searching the internet to discover exactly how much longer than three years Gove had already been in post.
Not to mention his ‘tough on discipline’ announcement in which he described what happens in most schools anyway as if it didn’t, giving the impression that he alone, heroically and triumphantly, has sorted everything out for the thankful nation. What a pity he didn’t go on to talk about being tough on the causes of in-discipline which might have included the out-dated 19th century curriculum he expects children of the 21st century to follow.
All Change Please! would like to suggest that in reality Govie is not actually particularly interested in education. If he did, perhaps he might try to understand it a bit better. What he’s really trying to do is to destroy the Teachers’ Unions, Thatcheresque-style. Meanwhile the bottom line is that he, like the rest of the Conservative Party, have votes to win at the next election, which is far from a foregone conclusion. So his real focus, with the help of the media, is essentially in sending out a message to the electorate that in this time of great uncertainly about our future prosperity, with the Conservatives we can safely return to the nostalgic world of the golden age of the 1950s where children not only knew what their ps and qs were, but minded them too*, and the country was a simpler, more certain and predictable place to live (even though of course in reality it wasn’t – but these days most people are too young to know that). It’s a strange world in which a return to the way things once were is now presented as being something new and innovative.
And finally, here’s the latest discovery from the priceless Michael ‘I’d rather you hadn’t seen this’ Gove archive:
* ‘Minding your Ps and Qs’. That’s an interesting phrase. I wonder where it originates from?
Top image credit: Flickr: mauro_ventura
Middle image credit: Tristram Shepard