You wake up one morning and wonder what you're going to do in life. You wonder about the kinds of people you can talk to. You wonder about the kinds of people you can listen to. It pops into your mind…I know, you say, to yourself, why don't I find someone who had a private education, studied law, went into Conservative Central Office, voted against gay marriage, and when someone was dubbed 'toxic' by the back room boys, this person got his job, the job with more undemocratic control over its area of administration than any other job in government? This, surely, is the person who will be worth listening to. This is the person who must know the lie of the land, the rub of the green, the way the wind blows. This is the person who must have the best long-term view of what education does for people of all kinds, all backgrounds, all points of view.
Then as luck would have it, this person suddenly gives a speech on this very subject. And whether it's something that she's concocted herself, or whether it's something cooked up by the back room boys in her party, the result is:
Why would we or should we think that a politician with this kind of background and outlook has got anything useful to say on this matter? And then we discover that we are back with deeply unhelpful remarks which put science and the humanities in opposition to each other, when any decent society would be trying to create conditions in which we can combine these approaches in education and work.
Science investigates the world through testing, trialling and collecting of evidence. Much of the humanities do the same thing. The arts do a lot of inventing which in its own way tests, trials and collects evidence too. Science keeps trying to be 'right' in terms of being able to produce results than can be reproduced. The arts tend not to as there is great premium on being 'original'. Other parts of humanities also look for evidence and make comparisons across time and space as back-up for hypotheses. But none of these approaches is in opposition to any other. At the heart of science, there is invention in order to create hypotheses or to create applications from what has been discovered. At the heart of the arts, there is evidence collecting in terms of creators looking at what people enjoy or are moved by.
We should not be conned into thinking that this Secretary of State for Education has anything useful to tell us. We should not be conned into thinking that this Secretary of State for Education has anything to tell us about science, humanities and the arts. We should not be conned into thinking that this Secretary of State for Education has anything to tell us about jobs and employment.