Top UK headteacher: Michael Gove is 'pressing the rewind button'

An article from the Guardian that makes me glad my kids have already gone through the UK school system. The pigeon-brained fool in charge of UK education right now, Michael Gove, is doing his level best to set school education in that country back a hundred years, ignorantly or wilfully ignoring every shred of educational research over the past century. He is living proof that an expensive education doesn’t automatically lead to an educated person and might even lead to the reverse: allegedly, he was a somewhat intelligent child, at least before he went to an independent school. Surprising. Thank heavens for people like Tricia Kelleher, the main subject of this article, whose common-sense critique rings true. I particularly like her complementary observations:

“If Michael Gove is saying we should just value what is in Pisa, then we might as well just collapse the curriculum and teach what will come top.”


“My worry is we are now going to be driven towards Pisa because Pisa becomes the next altar we worship at. But it is really a cul-de-sac in learning terms.”

Well said.

It makes me wonder about why we allow elected representatives with much less than no knowledge of education to run/ruin our educational systems. There must be some appeal among a significant number of people in the lunatic measures of success that they latch onto but that actually guarantee failure, such as PISA, standardized testing and the deliberate teaching of things that alienate children, along with counter-productivity initiatives that seek efficiency but that liquidize the baby with the bathwater. I’m guessing that these ideas might resonate with and spring from some of those who were brought up under the long-discredited behaviourist regime that blighted the mid-twentieth century and that still refuses to die in some places, even among educators. Few of us are very rational beings and we suffer, amongst many other things, from irrational primacy biases, choice-supportive biases, confirmation biases, irrational escalation and endowment effects that together lead us to believe that what was done to us was the right way to do things, no matter how much the available evidence proves that it was not.  Unfortunately, those who were damaged by behaviourist teaching approaches have been taught one of the best ways not to learn so, notwithstanding a good many who rise above it and/or who learned to learn in other ways, this may be a vicious cycle that is doomed to repeat itself for a while longer. 

Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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