Like war, formal education is a continuation of politics by other means — less direct, less controlled, less controllable, but no less powerful in its long term effects.
I wrote the above on this blog three years ago in a post that lamented the sheer cack-handedness of most Government interference in education (they call it policy-making) in England over the past 30 years. I should have emphasised the uncontrollable effects of this ‘policy-making’ much more than I did — a long succession of education ministers in Westminster over the past 3 decades have attempted to inflict their own variants on social engineering, and all of them have failed spectacularly. Unfortunately, each inevitable failure leaves a legacy of yet more disarray behind it.
Simon Jenkins, writing in today’s Guardian, agrees:
Accountability for England’s schools is now a total mess.
Jenkins takes aim at the latest ridiculous ‘league table’ to be imposed on England’s schools by Michael Gove. As he writes:
The craving for uniformity in public services has become a frenzy.…The belief that the crooked timber of mankind can be beaten straight on a Whitehall worktable is the greatest of all ministerial fallacies.
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
Michael Gove might well be pushing for a particular version of history to be imposed on England’s schools, but he is obviously less than keen to learn history’s lessons himself.