Saturday, 16 June 2012

Blow by blow account of Expert Panel and Gove

I'm not a lawyer so this feels a bit labyrinthine to me.

For the record this link will show you the letter by letter account of what Mary James and Andrew Pollard thought, wrote and did in relation to the production first of 'advice' and then the ultimate Daft Primary English Curriculum.

Thanks to Mary for putting it in the public domain. Plenty of other people have served time, have dissented but kept shtum over the last 25 years of Mad Curriculum Disease. Mary and Andrew have not. Hats off to them.

For the record I think that writing, publishing, enforcing (through tests and Ofsted) these curricula and strategies is a government apparatus designed to control and contain teachers and children. I don't believe they have any place in a democratic society.

Curricula, courses of study, systems of assessment should emerge out of teachers researching/observing researchers/observers teaching, collection of portfolios of best practice, discussion and consent in conjunction with advisers, inspectors and politicians.

I believe everything should be public, every policy justified by evidence and/or argument.

I have my own views about education believing that it should be based entirely on learning and the learner, using the basic principles of investigation (asking questions), discovery, invention and co-operation. While believing that, I also know that it would be entirely counter-productive to foist that on anyone. It could only be something that would have to be won in argument and with evidence based on research and observation. Why? For the obvious reason that at the end of the line it is a school with the whole school ethos and the teacher with his/her class where education happens. Practitioners can only practise well by consent.

This basic concept disappeared from view about 25 years ago and it may take another 25 years to claw it back. In the meantime we have a mix of megalomanic, control freakery from government assisted by some people who are just on the make, others who should know better than to think that anything gets better by nudging a clause here or there in the topdown, micromanagement of teachers and children. It's the process that is ultimately what is at fault not only the mindblowingly foolish crap that's in the documents.(see previous blogs on Four False Models and Subjunctivitis).

ps many moons ago one of the most insightful analysts of modern life, power and subjugation, Michel Foucault wrote 'Discipline and Punish' (along with many other books, papers and lectures). He enabled us to see in detail how and why those in power control discussion (or the 'discourse'), how they 'enact power', how they micromanage our lives - often through systems of 'incarceration', rigid time-keeping, stratification into good and bad, straight and non-straight, sane and mad and so on.

Even though his book was written when Gove was a boy, Foucault could not have better imagined Michael Gove, Secretary of Education.

We need such tools to see what is being done to education, teachers and children and to assist in our resistance against it all.

ps here is an excellent paper on Foucault and education teasing out his various thoughts on the matter and how others have adapted and refined the thinking: