Chalk talk: Why Gove's classroom plans are just not very rock'n'roll
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 17 July 2013
To the RSA to listen to Sir Ken Robinson, internationally renowned guru on how to introduce creativity into the classroom and former adviser to the previous Labour government – and several other governments around the world.
The answer, it would seem, is not to adopt the approach of Education Secretary Michael Gove (and, incidentally, several of his predecessors in government) of a top-down approach telling schools just what they should do.
One of the greatest and most successful changes in culture was the introduction of rock'n'roll in the 1950s, he told his audience, and that certainly wasn't introduced as a result of two ministers meeting in Brussels and deciding to set up a focus group and then pilot the idea. You get the drift.
He had a few choice words to say about the current government and a few oblique references to Mr Gove, too, such as: "I've been around long enough to see many Secretaries of State come and go and I'm looking forward to my next experience of this very process."
He was particularly critical of Mr Gove's attitude towards the teachers' organisations, saying their motions of no confidence in the Government's education policies seemed to have been greeted with "a smug expression of satisfaction" in government circles when ministers should have asking "how on earth can we have got it so wrong?" As for the 100 academics who wrote complaining that the new plans for the national curriculum were just "lists of facts" and risked boring pupils – he was, said Sir Ken "preposterously rude" in describing them as "the blob".
I find myself thinking, as I often do in these circumstances, it would be good to set up a debate between the two protagonists – each of whom has a fine turn of phrase and is passionate about his beliefs.
By the way, in answer to a query from Stonewall's press office, yes – you did hear Michael Gove right. He did promise to preside over an auction of the singer Will Young's hat, the proceeds from which would go to boost the campaigning gay rights group's coffers.
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