Mind your language! #Gove #Truss #Wilshaw #Cameron

16 Sep

What has happened to good manners and reasoned, evidence-based arguments in politics in public debate?

We have complained before about Michael Gove’s use of terms such as “trots” and “enemies of promise”.

The Prime Minister has also employed totalitarian language, attacking those who raised concerns about the blanket use of phonics as using wrong-headed methods”, on which we commented:

“Because you don’t agree with whatever these unspecified “methods” are so they are not just “wrong” but “wrong-headed”, that is those who hold them are muddled or confused or not capable of thinking properly a patronising, dictatorial and rather dangerous attitude.”

Then a spokesman for Education Secretary Michael Gove said that the signatories of a letter on early education were “misguided”:

“These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools.”

“We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer — a system freed from the grip of those who bleat bogus pop-psychology about ’self image’, which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up.”

Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson commented:

“These comments are typical of the Education Secretary’s dismissive approach to anyone who dares to question his view of education – labelling them as ‘enemies’, ‘trots’, or ‘bad’, to pick a few examples.

“Describing the signatories as a ‘powerful lobby’ is spin – an attempt to make them sound sinister and dangerous.

“In fact, those his spokesman so casually dismisses “as ‘misguided’ are the real experts in the early years, education, psychology and child development – not a journalist-turned-politician who can rarely be found in a school – unless it’s a photo opportunity – and even less frequently, if at all, in a nursery.

“Unlike Mr Gove, those who have signed the letter have the best interests of children in mind. He should read it again – if he has read it at all – and take it on board.

“It is not the case that the only way is the Gove way.

“Given his love of publicity, perhaps he should have his own ‘unreality’ TV series, ‘The Only Way is Gove’.”

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss then waded in, echoing the Prime Minister by telling The World at One on BBC Radio Four:  “I think the campaign is wrong-headed.”

In response to comments from respected academic Professor Robert Coe that schools inspectors in England were basing their verdicts on evaluation methods which might not be reliable, Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the claims were “tosh and nonsense”.

What example is the behaviour of these senior public figures setting to the students they have responsibilities for? Is this improving the standard of public debate?

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5 Responses to “Mind your language! #Gove #Truss #Wilshaw #Cameron”

  1. Richard Fraser 17. Sep, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    New low for personal political attacks: [www.politics.co.uk/news/2013/09/16/tory-mp-in-family-jibe-at-female-colleague]

  2. Richard Fraser 23. Sep, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    “Gove’s romantic cure for sexting” According to The Sunday Times, “The education secretary wants teenagers to send each other love poems rather than lewd messages”
    [www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/Politics/article1317313.ece] “Gove, who read English at Oxford, revealed that his own favourite love poems are Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold….[www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dover_Beach]

    So… (The last verse is hardly changed from the very apt original! Those Gove’s spokesperson described as “misguided” are not the ones who are “misguided”!):

    Govey’s Beach

    With apologies to Matthew Arnold

    The school is calm tonight,
    The roll is full, Ofsted’s report was fair
    Upon the stats; on the Free school the light
    Gleams and is gone; the classes of England stand,
    Growing and vast, free meals ready in the loading bay.
    Come to the window, sweet is the night air!

    Only, from the long line of spray
    Where the web meets the media-bleached land,
    Listen! you hear the grating roar
    Of Gove which the papers draw back, and fling,
    At their return, up the high street and,
    Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
    With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
    The eternal note of sadness in.

    Teachers not long ago
    Heard it daily on the news, and it brought
    Into their mind the turgid ebb and flow
    Of human misery; we
    Find also in the sound a thought –
    Tested to destruction – minus C.

    The Sound of Play
    Was once, too, at the full, and round early years for sure,
    Lay like the folds of bright laughter curled.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
    And Ofsted inspections of Wilshaw’s world.

    Ah, Gove, we’re not trots but true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath, with you, neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where “misguided” armies clash by night.

  3. Richard Fraser 24. Sep, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    TES News Blog: “Top primary don warns Michael Gove: “Insulting opponents is the real ‘enemy of progress'”: [http://news.tes.co.uk/news_blog/b/weblog/archive/2013/09/24/insulting-your-opponents-is-the-real-39-enemy-of-progress-39-academic-says.aspx]

  4. Richard Fraser 04. Oct, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Commenting on the ‘Daily Telegraph’ article by Elizabeth Truss (see above), in particular the final paragraph, Neil Henty, Editor of ‘Early Years Educator’, comments (“Rhetoric over reason will not fool sector”) in the November 2013 issue:

    “As the education secretary has shown, if hundreds of people (mostly those who know what they are talking about) disagree with you, they must be wrong, lefties, or superstitious…But read the letter and you will see that its signatories are none of these things. They are childcare experts, but for some reason Ms Truss overlooks such expertise…perhaps it would help if … future childcarers had some hope that their knowledge might help shape childcare policy? Or that they might be offered reasoned debate from their minister. That would be something, would it not?”

  5. Richard Fraser 08. Dec, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Welcome rejection of the “counter-productive” language of her predecessor http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/06/nicky-morgan-battle-michael-gove-schools

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