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Shocking News: Labour activist (and NUT member) criticises Michael Gove

September 14, 2013

I’ve hesitated about blogging about this, because it does amount to looking a gift horse in the mouth. I am grateful when my blog gets publicity in the press, and the Times has never mentioned me since I ranted about their article  suggesting I was oppressing women. So I’m not trying to have a go here, but I found the following article in the Guardian curious:

Guardian 001

It is great to see my opinions getting media coverage, particularly as I’m usually only acknowledged for agreeing with Gove. I am tempted to be grateful for the possible gain in street cred it might give me to be recognised as a Gove critic. However, one of my pet peeves in blogging are articles that follow a structure of saying “I hate Gove for being a git, but….” before acknowledging something he has got right. Partly because I am not keen on personal attacks or attempts to divide the world into goodies and baddies, but also because I don’t like the idea that you have to reassure people that you are on their side before expressing certain opinions. If somebody won’t listen to my opinions unless I first reassure them that I am an angry partisan of the left, then meaningful engagement is probably going to be impossible anyway. People who judge educational ideas by who supports them, rather than the arguments in their favour are always going to have a toxic effect on debate. For that reason I will try not to be tempted to send people to this article when accused of right-wing sympathies, or described as “Gove’s favourite blogger”.

With regard to the opinions expressed in the article, nothing was really new. The following blogs cover most of the points, although I could add to this list:

So, agreeing with the unions about pay and conditions was not really anything new, even though I’m always ready to disagree with almost everything they say about the curriculum. However, given that Gove is still mentioning me and my blog after I have expressed these views seems to me to be a point in his favour. There are plenty of unthinking right-wingers whose entire agenda is to exclude “The Left” (note the capitals) from influence over education. While some of what Gove has said or written steers in that direction (and is then recycled endlessly as “proof” of his ideological dogmaticism) there can be no real denial that he is happy to acknowledge arguments from all sides, and accept agreement in one context from those who might disagree in another. That is why I find the story curious. The interesting thing is not that a blogger Gove praises has criticised some of his policies, the interesting thing is that he would publicise a blogger who is opposed to him in so many ways and will be popping out to deliver some Labour leaflets as soon as he’s finished writing this post. The surprising thing is how deeply interested Gove is in all sides of the education debate. Compare and contrast with my own party, where nobody talking about education seems to acknowledge the existence of the debates happening in schools or on social media.

6 comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.


  2. I was in the audience for Gove’s “The Importance of Teaching” speech the Times piece refers to. What saddens me is the way anyone who actually listened to what he said could continue to paint him as an educational reactionary, when he so clearly champions genuine innovation by real teachers (he cited lots of examples) and seems much more interested in understanding what real schools and teachers are doing than in what strategists, the research community or the unions have to say.

    How Mansell chose to respond to Gove’s serious attempt to articulate why teachers matter, seems to exemplify this.


    • Sorry, I just realised I accidentally implied that the article was from the Times. It was from the Guardian. I have now altered my post to make that clearer.


    • Quite. Well said.


      • That was meant to be a reply to JoeN, not a snide comment addressed to AO. Drat the ordering system on here!


  3. “I don’t like the idea that you have to reassure people that you are on their side before expressing certain opinions. If somebody won’t listen to my opinions unless I first reassure them that I am an angry partisan of [the left] – *whatever*, then meaningful engagement is probably going to be impossible anyway.”

    I think I might print that out and frame it.



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