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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Its a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird

Most of you in the UK (and many outside) can't have helped but hear about Michael Gove's latest ill thought out, poorly conceived piece of idiotic policy making. Mr Gove has made changes to both the GCSE and the A-Level English Literature specification which basically removes many stalwarts of both courses, such as Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and hopes to replace them with twentieth century literature by authors from the British Isles. Once again (in concurrence with his ignorant ideas about the History curriculum) it shows Mr Gove pushing our education system towards a mono-cultural abyss. More and more it seems that Mr Gove sees Education, not as his job and his responsibility with the weight of millions of emerging character and intellects at stake, but as his own personal fiefdom in which to experiment and make changes purely based on his own view of the world and of education. At this point I will make the point that Mr Gove is, unlike many (though not all) Education Secretaries, not an Educator, he has no background in Education. His degree is in Journalism and it was this profession he pursed until he became an MP in 2005. Yet this lack of expertise has not stopped him from enacting a whole series of changes, most as foolhardy as the next leading teachers and educators everywhere to despair. All three of the major teachers' unions have passed votes of no confidence in him and he has been roundly criticised  by the Association of Headteachers in addition to this. Mr Gove makes it clear at all turns that he despises teachers and that the advice and expertise of experienced educational practitioners and academics has no bearing on his ideas nor his policies.

The most recent, the proposed change to the English curriculum has incensed both the teaching profession and public alike. Both Lee and Steinbeck have long been popular mainstays of the GCSE curriculum and I myself studied them. Gove's mistake seems to have been tied up in his massive disconnect between himself and the people he (and his government and party ) are supposed to represent. Scroll through Twitter discussions and Facebook posts and the amount of love for both these books is immense. So many point to them as books that made them love reading, or that taught them valuable lessons on race and class. Atticus Finch is oft cited as a role model of integrity that those of us who studied the books at school and are now parents our self aspire to be for our children and as the kind of man we would like to teach our sons to be. The importance of these books to our children and their education has nothing to with where they were written and everything to do with the stories they tell and the lessons they impart. That Gove can't see that makes him singularly unfit for the position he now occupies.

Please sign the position requesting that Mr Gove reverse his position here

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