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On Gove and Poetry

Pre-literate peoples rely on an oral tradition to maintain their cultural narrative. Despite its importance in our relatively recent past this is largely irrelevant to us in the technology driven 21st century. This does not of course mean that poetry and other creative arts are irrelevant. Children DO learn poetry and enjoy learning it but, requiring them to do so by rote does not add anything to their education, nor does it equip them better for adult life. Reading for meaning in a text is of real value, learning it parrot fashion has none without genuine understanding. Similarly, simple recall of historical facts is worthless without knowledge of what that fact meant and continues to mean for humanity.

The vast majority of teachers in state schools are skilful and knowledgeable professionals who understand children and how they learn. Gove is a journalist turned politician without the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to qualify him to dictate to them how to teach. His civil service advisers have a similar deficit .

He’d do much more to improve outcomes in schools by concentrating on diverting more resources to them. He could finance this by bullying his Treasury colleagues, as he currently does teachers, to improve their performance in the collection of tax from the likes of Vodafone for example.

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