There is an epic profile of the children's author and poet, Michael Rosen in the Times today in which he sets out his vision for schools. My children have read some of his books, but the photo accompanying the article is, to my knowledge, the first time I've ever set eyes on him.
What was it about him which made me say to myself, "Lefty"? Perhaps it's because he has a face like something you might see around the nether regions of Glasgow on a weekday afternoon.
Either way, a gentle googling shows that he is in fact a magna cum laude among lefty intellectuals, having been thrown out of the BBC in the seventies when the vetting procedures suggested that employing him might not be a good idea. This doesn't seem to have affected his prospects much though. Apart from his books, he has also managed to write for the Socialist Review and Socialist Worker and has stood as a candidate for Respect. Of course with a background that dodgy he is a "must" at the BBC for whom he makes regular appearances.
So what has the good comrade got to say on the subject of education? Well, he's not exactly a fan of the way things are at the moment:
There had been “this extraordinary shift in the past ten years: you don’t talk about teaching and learning, you talk about management”, he said.
“The Government thinks it terribly important that you set up these weird incentive schemes in classes, so you get ticks, smiley faces and certificates. This is about competitive stigmatising. They think it’s rewarding the children; in fact, it ends up punishing most of them.”
He is angry at the rigorous testing regime which has reduced his passion, literature, to a series of tick-box exercises. Take SATs, the exams now given to every child aged 7 and again at 11, forcing children to think like Gradgrind, solely about facts.
And I'm sure he's right about the problems, but you have to wonder don't you? Here's a man who went to a grammar school, but who is vociferous in condemning any form of selection; a man who loathes private schools, faith schools and single-sex schools. The bog standard comp is the pinnacle of his educational universe, the summation of all his deepest thinking on children and their education. It is his philosophical apogee.
So why is the half-witted moron whinging? He has got exactly what he bloody well wants. He wants the state to run schools. He wants decisions made by the wise man in Whitehall. How the hell can you campaign for education to be run by the bureaucratic apparatus of the state and then start bitching when it turns into a bureaucracy? This slack-jawed numpty demands that educational outcomes be decided by the democratic process, and then can only belly-ache when it delivers what politicians rather than consumers want - just as it always does. Why don't you get involved in the democratic process yourself Michael? Oh yes, you did, and it made no difference at all did it? Well how about putting your children into a different school? What? They're all the same? You don't say. Still, it's been decided democratically that smiley faces and lots of testing is the way it's going to be. And that's the way you wanted it isn't it Michael?
What an idiot.
You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection.