The Secretary of State for Education. On legs. Incarnate. In shorts. With headphones – and jogging towards me in the environs of West London. What could he be listening to? John Dryden’s Greatest Hits? Is he an hallucination? No. He’s quite real – and getting closer.
Shall I trip him up? With a red card tackle? That wouldn’t be very mature. It would play badly with Middle England. “Lefty Pensioner Mugs Noble Minister”.
I’d be just another “enemy of promise”, a member of what he calls “The Blob”. Shouldn’t I just grow up and hail the fellow and engage him in a temperate, Socratic dialogue about things epistemological? Synthetic Phonics? Like Boswell and Johnson?
Or quiz him quietly about his vision of the 1950s. Or about his demonising of “trendy lefties”? Perhaps not. I’ll only start ranting. He’d demolish me. His alleged charm could vanish and he might cut up rough. I’ve seen him in the House of Commons.
He’s getting closer. I feel compelled to stop him and address him thus... Why don’t you listen to teachers? Why are you so down on them? Do you know how brilliant most are? How your drear agenda betrays the experience of their classrooms. Why do we so rarely hear actual teachers on the media? Why so often those public school drones? Why don’t we hear voices we can recognise?
Like Michael Rosen, for example. I recently heard him at a national education debate. Wise and funny and full of fresh perspectives. He wondered why our schools are controlled by “failure junkies”?
Or you could watch him on YouTube on “Literacy”. “Look at those tots smiling and chanting, as he recites We’re Going to Hunt the Bear!” Magic. That’s how it’s done. He did the same with my 8th year – prompting much pleasure and laughter. But they’re not on your syllabus.
Or check out Phil Beadle on creativeeducation.co.uk. Watch him teach Macbeth or poetry at Eastlea Community School. The pedagogy’s fierce and brave and, yes, more rigorous than all your informational retrieval. Watch the class explore the moral complexities of Shakespeare or write their own terrific poems. Beadle talks of the “deep literary joy of reading their work” and of “their souls”. Souls? Easy, Mr Beadle. We can’t quite measure this kind of thing. This kind of teaching is very common. You could see it all the time.
He’s getting ever closer.
Shall I accost him? Go on! On behalf of the nation. But won’t he dismiss me as just another of the “Blob”? So I don’t. I duck down an alley way and let the Great Man pass.