I was not one of the 100 or so professors (or so) who wrote to the Telegraph the other week taking Mr Gove to task on his curriculum reforms, largely because I wasn't significant enough to be invited. As such, I avoided being bashed by anti-progressive bloggers and snobby types:
"Surely, Jemima, these cannot all be real universities?"
But would I have signed? It is, literally, an academic issue, of course, but I might not have been too keen, as the letter is rather an odd confection:
SIR – As academics, we are writing to warn of the dangers posed by Michael Gove’s new National Curriculum, which could severely erode educational standards.
Mr Gove has clearly misunderstood England’s decline in the Programme for International Student Assessment tests. Schools in high-achieving Finland and Massachusetts emphasise cognitive development, critical understanding and creativity, not rote learning.
In its volume of detailed instructions, this curriculum betrays a distrust of teachers. Whatever the intention, the proposed curriculum for England will result in a “dumbing down” of teaching and learning.
The proposed curriculum consists of endless lists of spellings, facts and rules. This mountain of data will not develop children’s ability to think, including problem-solving, critical understanding and creativity.
Much of it demands too much, too young. This will put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning without understanding. Little account is taken of children’s potential interests and capacities, or that young children need to relate abstract ideas to their experience, lives and activity.
That's it, as far as I can see. It just doesn't seem finished. Not even a "your obedient servants" or "cheers". And far too many hostages to (right-wing) fortune, especially as it can be taken as being against all facts.
I have, however, signed another letter, this time to the Sunday Times (this weekend). More on this later ...