Resistance or debate?

A selection from Saturday’s conversation on BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster ( between David Blunkett and Nick Gibb:

NG: …He [Michael Gove] doesn’t set out to be non-consensual, but what can happen is that if you’re determined to ensure that the reforms are implemented which he is they will ruffle the feathers of those people who are resistant to that reform.

DB: Well I’m not sure about calling the teaching profession The Blob is actually all that consensual…

NG: No, well, the Blob isn’t the teaching profession, the Blob is not the teaching profession…

DB: Well, who the devil is it then?

NG: The Blob, I’ll tell you who the Blob is, the Blob are the academics in the education faculties of the Universities and the Local Authority advisers and they have a particular orthodoxy that they impose on the teaching profession….

[A discussion on who has power continues]

NG: …. Now, well, now they have less power because automony has been given to the professionals and at the expense of the education faculties and at the expense of the local authorities and that is why there is this anger by those people about what Michael Gove is doing

DB: Nick, Nick, you’re fighting a past battle, you’re fighting a past battle begun twenty-five years ago in 1988 by Ken Baker and you’re still fighting it now [….] That battle’s over; the battle for the highest standards in every school, the life chance of every child whatever their background, that battle will continue…

NG: There is still an intellectual battle to be won about child initiated learning, about mixed ability teaching, about how you teach arithmetic…

I can’t spare the time to challenge the logic in the first section about consensuality and resistance (or to hark back in any detail to David Blunkett’s phrase about people being “cynical”), so here are just a couple of thoughts from the Blob, if that is who I am (quite apart from the insult, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the pigeonhole; I am in no way knee-jerk resistant, for example): if there is an intellectual battle to be fought over child-initiated learning, then perhaps the research done by the Universities might be useful evidence – or is an intellectual engagement really not about weighing evidence, but about who can shout the loudest, be the rudest (and I know some HE and school colleagues who have not held back here)? And on the side-swipe on child-initiated learning, do we discern how The Foundation Stage might be further dismantled, with insights from psychology and sociology – not to mention the everyday pedagogy of the nursery I brought with me into teacher education – swept aside in the kind of rhetoric I have commented on before?

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