Michael Gove’s Mr Men SpeechMay 9, 2013
I see that there has been a lot of media coverage for a speech today at Brighton College by Michael Gove. You can read the full text here.
However, here I will be ignoring the media coverage and focussing on me. Or rather, focussing on parts of the speech which may be of interest to anyone who reads this blog regularly.
There was this bit:
[Joe] Kirby’s challenge to us in Government is clear. And it is reinforced by the arguments of other influential teacher-bloggers like Andrew Old and Matthew Hunter.
Then there was this bit on the history curriculum:
And I have particularly enjoyed listening to my friend and colleague Tristram Hunt who has, in various degrees, at various times, been both supportive and critical.
This seems to cover similar territory to my recent blogpost on Tristram Hunt’s fluctuating convictions.
And as for the bit that got the most media coverage:
It would be bad enough if this approach were restricted to primary schools. But even at GCSE level this infantilisation continues. One set of history teaching resources targeted at year 11s – 15 and 16 year olds – suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler as a ‘Mr Men’ story.
If I may quote – “The following steps are a useful framework: Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…). Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.”
I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves’ work but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat.
But I am familiar with the superb historical account Richard J Evans gives of the rise, rule and ruin of the Third Reich and I cannot believe he could possibly be happy with reducing the history of Germany’s darkest years to a falling out between Mr Tickle and Mr Topsy-Turvy.
I think you’ll find I got there first, featuring it as the third point in my blogpost on “Attitudes Which Cause Dumbing Down“.