Michael Gove. Elicits strong reactions that name. From both hysterical anti-reform types as well from uncritical disciples of the #cultofGove
My own reaction? More a shrug of the shoulders with the odd outburst thrown in. He’s a mixed legacy. And I suspect history will judge him the same. His greatest success has been in convincing people that his sole mission is to raise standards, and that all his reforms have this ultimate goal in mind.
Personally, I don’t buy that line. I think some of his reforms have little to do with raising standards, and will in the long run prove corrosive. And intellectual curiosity, if nothing else, must lead one to question why so much of this structural change, to raise standards natch, seems to fit so very snugly with neo-Thatcherite politics.
Still, one is compelled to ask the question: so what?
For all that I think Gove gets wrong, he nonetheless is trying to get some things right. Initiating a full and frank exchange on our degraded curriculum, pointing out the injustice of grade inflation, rehabilitating the view that knowing stuff is important for its own sake (a view not shared by all his cult devotees): these strike me as of fundamental importance. Which means that one must at least consider whether endurance of the stuff that he gets wrong is not a price worth paying.
There will come a time when some future government will have to put right the damage wrought by certain of Gove’s actions. There is little doubt about it. Nonetheless, if that is the immediate price for developing a better curriculum and shaping a more rigorous learning culture, then is it not worth it?
Some will clearly believe not and will bray at the very suggestion. Angrily. Before hurling abuse at any who dare suggest otherwise. Myself? I’m not so sure. I want change. Some of the change that I want to see is similar to the change that Gove wants to see. In that sense, for those of a like mind, Gove is less a embodiment of the diabolical and more a potential ally.
Meaning that either I, or he, is a useful idiot. Suppose you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Courtesy of Michael Merrick