Friday, February 20, 2009

"These severely utilitarian and philistine times"

It's from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious but we'll overlook that on this occasion because the report from the Cambridge Primary Review is a beautiful thing, people:
"Children's lives are being impoverished by the government's insistence that schools focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of creative teaching, the biggest review of the primary school curriculum in 40 years finds today.

Labour has failed to tackle decades of over-prescription in the curriculum and added to it with its own strategies in literacy and numeracy, which take up nearly half the school week, the Cambridge University review of the primary curriculum found.

Children are leaving school lacking knowledge about the arts and humanities having spent too many years "tied to a desk" learning times tables, the head of the review, Robin Alexander, said."
It's full of goodness criticising the modern tendency to have a goddamn test every other day, arguing the "the assessment tail wags the curriculum dog". And there's other gorgeous stuff about Whitehall attempting to micro-manage everything and about how it doesn't even fucking work because "despite this too many children still leave primary school having failed to master the 3Rs."

Simple case of a Weberian situation where a rational means - the aforementioned goddamn tests - becoming an end in themselves and therefore irrational. I've been making this point for forty-five years - a couple of years before I was born and quite a few before the National Curriculum was introduced.

Whom the gods wish to destroy, first they make accountable. And make no mistake, the Tories wanted to destroy teachers and state education. That Thatcher in trousers Blair who hated the public sector just as much as his heroine simply made matters worse. The Shadow Children's Secretary, Michael Gove, said, "I now realise that the arrogant Tory centralising policies that I supported have all but ruined education in this country". Journalists looked on in astonishment as he then took out a revolver and blew his own brains out.

Ok, he didn't really. What he actually said was... ach, who cares what he said? His conspicuous failure to blow his own brains out is the important point.

Anyway, since the vast majority of teachers have been arguing the same points made in the report for years to no avail, I've come to the conclusion that talking about it is completely fucking pointless. Instead, I'm increasingly coming round to brother Will's philosophy that what is really required at this time is the acquisition of weaponry in order to go on a killing spree. (His argument about tea, on the other hand, is frankly an outrage and possibly blasphemous.)

Failing that, there's the Holden Caulfield option of getting a job pumping petrol and pretending to be a deaf-mute so you don't have to engage in conversation with people who talk shit. Because I'm tired of listening to and reading people talking shit about education - journalists, bloggers, politicians, parents, and yea verily - even teachers themselves. 99.9% of you are so full of shit. Makes me so tired. Soul-tired.

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