First, the Secretary of State for Education and former journalist for The Times, Michael Gove seems determined to purge all non-believers in Govism from Offsted, next he makes a play for a return to the traditional values of punishment-based discipline, then he makes further noises picked up by his old chum at Canary Warf, the editor of the New Statesman, about taking down the “Berlin Wall” of educational privilege.
Some people find his apparent common sense approach appealing; some think he really is on the side of those of us who want to get privilege out of education and so does even The Guardian; so do even some of us who want the parents to stop banishing little kids from their homes in order to have proper social democracy in Britain.
But I think – be careful! I smell the Entitlement Illusion taking another devious turn. And this strategy make me very nervous. Gove is very, very dangerous I think. The fact that he can enlist the New Statesman shows it.
Gove has massive connections with his old boss Murdoch and, in my opinion, he does not really want the wall down, but he wants a new popularisation of reactionary privilege. He wants a human wall. I suspect he is wedded to a nouvelle elitism and an education system out of the control of the electorate, in the hands of the ‘corporatocracy.’* That is really a problem, and if he is successful it will be a problem we will never get back from, just as no one is ever going to reopen closed down libraries or post offices – it’s a one way street.
Some refer to his ‘humble’ origins, but do not forget that Gove comes from the hyper-aspirational shopkeeper class that produced Ted heath and Thatcher and who crave to rise in the hierarchy and are addicted to the benefits of elitism like crack addicts. Britain is a top-down society and, in that, Britain is distinguished from all modern European social democracies. It is this which needs to be dismantled, because it is this that rationalises the sacrifice of children – whether the young privileged or the disowned and increasing disenfranchised underclass.
Sally Fraser writes an extraordinary heartfelt blog about her experience as a wife and daughter-in-law of boarding school survivors. She has just found this surreal piece on the Department of Education website. “Our ambition is for pupils to use the benefits of a military ethos,” it begins. Sally suggests this to be an underlining of our society’s “determination to make sure we keep raising wounded leaders”
Can you figure all this out? Not sure I can.
* (Perkins, J. (2004). ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,’ San Francisco: Brett-Koehler Publcations. In his best-selling book, John Perkins bravely tells the story of his work as a highly paid consultant hired to strong-arm leaders into creating policy favourable to the U.S. government and corporations—what he calls the “corporatocracy” and of his epiphany which led him to “come in from the cold.”)