Michael Gove. The one name that will inspire rage within the core of every History student, professor and any citizen unwilling to let our young people grow up with a narcissistic, anglo-centric view of the past.
Unsurprisingly, the teaching community has reached its limit. According to a petition that has taken off on 38degrees.org, started by teacher Amy Neill, the only way to coax Gove out of his ignorance is to send him into a classroom for a term so that he can fully appreciate the job they do. The petition already has over 100,000 signatures, with comments remarking on his lack of knowledge, his policies’ damage to pupils’ future, and the strain he is placing on hardworking teachers.
Teachers are certainly a highly under-appreciated stratum of society. The phrase “those who can do and those who can’t teach” taunts hard-working teachers daily. Criticism of teachers seems especially harsh considering that teachers have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping others, quite often the offspring of those levelling criticism at them.
This is unfair enough in itself, but to have the Secretary of State for Education seemingly fit into the category of those who misunderstand the teaching profession is downright absurd.
Before entering politics, Gove worked as a journalist. It seems bizarre that the system of our country allows someone with absolutely no first-hand experience of such an important sector as education to be in direct control of it, even before looking at proof of his incompetence.
Moreover, teaching and journalism are, at their extremes, morally at odds to each other. The former involves a great degree of direct responsibility for the experiences and emotions of other human beings, whilst the latter is under absolutely no obligation to do the same, making Gove even less suitable for the job.
Giving him even the smallest amount of experience within this alternate world, therefore, can definitely do no harm.
Spending a term within a classroom would also be an interesting test of Gove’s character. If following such an appointment his policies took on a more empathetic and understanding ideology, it would show him to be capable of adaptation and that his failures were a result of ignorance as opposed to inherent ineptitude.
However surely it should not be the job of the teaching profession to force their representative to understand his representees. It should fall to him to take a pro-active stance and talk to teachers off his own back, to fill the gaps in his knowledge. If he does not automatically see this as a necessary step to take, perhaps all the necessary proof of his character is already staring us in the face.
Further to this, last year the Association of Teachers and Lecturers passed a motion of no-confidence in Gove, as did the National Union of Teachers. The NUT also called for him to resign, the first time they had expressed so little faith in a Secretary of State for Education. This is clearly important.
If democratic government is supposedly the rule by elected representatives of the people, then Gove is certainly not filling his role. Calls for his resignation, in this case, seem completely justified – if not necessary.
Therefore petitioning to give Gove a first-hand re-education is perhaps an excessively kind measure. The teaching community deserves a representative who, without having prompted to do so, will act in the best interests of them and their pupils. Surely maintaining the quality of education is important.
Although video evidence of Gove attempting to shape the minds of a class of rowdy thirteen year olds would undoubtedly give me some sliver of twisted satisfaction.