11 Comments

  1. teachingbattleground
    May 12, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. What now for education? | @assetteach | The Echo Chamber
    May 17, 2015 @ 11:30 am

    […] left needs to rethink. As I have argued here, much current thinking and practice in education can hardly be considered left-wing in the first […]

  3. Alan
    August 5, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

    The attitude of “the left” in education is a paradox only if you believe that their goal is to improve our society.
    Marx,Lenin, Engels, Gramsi, Hitler etc. advocated the destruction of existing society.
    They knew that the most effective way to achieve that was to subvert the education system. First they recruited the teachers.
    Even the worst of them knew the value of a proper education. They turned out Politically brainwashed Party supporters, with a good all-round education.
    Here and now, Political Correctness is the modern socio-political brainwashing. Mass illiteracy and innumeracy is now common, even among adults. I don’t need to tell you what that means.

    I wish I could believe that I am wrong.

    • teachwell
      August 5, 2015 @ 5:16 pm

      Thank you for commenting.

      I would not have considered Hitler to be of the left (I think the use of National Socialism is a bizarre one and nothing socialist about it!!) and neither do I believe that the left wing authors you mention wanted to destroy society, they just wanted a different one and felt only a revolution would achieve it.

      Right wingers and fascists wanted everything to stay the same or only change in a way that maintained that order.

      In all walks of life societies have changed over time. However, I do not think that the idealism was ever going to be matched in reality. As Orwell observed both the extreme left and right act in the same manner when they are in power and it’s a far throw away from any form of democracy.

      I fear you have not read Gramsci – he argued against progressive education, which was being introduced by the Italian Fascists, and came to realise that educational progressivism is not the same as social progressivism. So yes, he did know the value of a proper education – and he argued that all should have it!! It is Gramscian ideas that are the basis of common core and the new national curriculum here.

      Also socialism or being left wing is not correlated with illiteracy and innumeracy per se – Cuba is a literate society whereas Spain wasn’t under Franco (who was very right wing!!).

      Educational opportunity means that children have equal access and we do not hinder their progress through biases against them. This is not political correctness (which I think is a way for people who hold quite prejudiced views. It enables them to feel in control of what can be said in a way that is acceptable to them and then impose it on others to hide their own views) but rather lack of prejudice in the first place. It is centred in humanitarianism whereas political correctness is there to reinforce the existing divisions in new ways. I also think it stops communities getting to know each other as it presents it’s own stereotypes that divide.

      My home town is multicultural and has next to no problems and elsewhere they do. I don’t think we bothered with political correctness, we just treated each other with respect, learnt from one another and found ways of cohabiting. There needs to be understanding and reasonableness from all parties.

      Those places where political correctness is rife seem to hold all the same prejudices. I think politically correct people actually prefer speaking to those with extreme views from different communities (as this often mirrors their own mindset if not the content of their mindset). The moderates are shut out.

      This is true in education as well as many other fields. Those that hold progressive views think they are ‘liberating’ children and simply do not reflect the views or wishes of a large chunk of society. Ironically, it is one of the reasons why many ethnic minorities and poor people have an issue with teachers – they are off on one instead of teaching reading, writing and numeracy. There is no evidence that children will not learn these unless entertained.

      More worrying is the way that many assume certain parents are useless (both the very rich and the very poor) which means that progressive ideas relating to pastoral care need to be implemented. Nurture Groups whose actual mission is to make children dependent (so they can then learn to be independent although I have never seen them actively do this) is a gross experiment which is an attempt to undermine the relationship between parent and child, instead of helping to support it.

      In the end I think we may differ in values more than you think but I do think you have made good points. I do not think there is only one way of being left wing, I will not be told that from a middle class socialist having grown up in a working class family, and it certainly does not involve denying children the fundamental aspects of education.

  4. Alan
    August 6, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

    Thank you for your response.
    You’re right: I have never read Gramsci properly (something I must find time to do).
    I find a different viewpoint, so eloquently expressed, very interesting.

  5. Alan
    August 6, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

    Oops, I missed a bit.

    “I fear you have not read Gramsci –” Correct. Not properly anyway. On reflection I shouldn’t have included him.
    I was not trying to be controversial by mentioning Hitler. I just wanted to make the point that even the nastiest piece of work of the last century knew the value of a proper education. Which seems to be more than our current Masters do.

    I have given up classifying people into “left” or “right”.
    One of my friends is an ex-miner. He strongly believes in democracy, free debate and generally civilised behaviour. He left the Scottish Socialist Party and several other “far left” organisations because of their violence and anti-Semitism. His Labour friends accuse him of being a “Communist”.
    He posted a comment on a Left Wing forum (I don’t know which one) saying that every child should be taught to read, write and count at school.
    He was promptly accused of racism. He queried this and it was explained that we live in a racist society which deliberately impoverishes black children. Therefore black children obviously can’t do as well as white children. Therefore to expect the same level of achievement was racial discrimination. Therefore my friend is a “right wing troll”. Q.E.D.
    So there you go: democratic socialist, “Communist” or a “right wing troll”. What a waste of time.

  6. teachwell
    August 6, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

    I feel for your friend and if it is worth anything I find that kind of attitude ridiculous. I often find that those who are politically correct to be far more racist and less resistant to changing those views than others who for reasons of background and maybe out of ignorance come out with things that are politically incorrect.

    I also think that anyone who took your friends comment as racist is so deeply deluded that the best thing is to leave them at it and hope that at some point in time they will mature!!

  7. Alan
    August 6, 2015 @ 10:10 pm

    I wonder if I have failed to make my original point, which was that “the Left” did value a good education, as you pointed out. Michael Gove said in a TV interview that his father, a Communist Party member, believed that a good education was essential for all, and that was the then-current Communist Party policy.

    My friend has lowered his blood pressure by removing himself from that forum. That was the last straw.
    I sometimes wonder who these people are. If I hadn’t met plenty of that sort over the years (including a school teacher, a University Professor and a senior BBC manager, all “raving lefties”) I would be tempted to think they were agent provocateurs acting for “the right”.
    I think Old Andrew has got it about right, as far as I can tell from inside my own bubble.

    • teachwell
      August 6, 2015 @ 11:48 pm

      I’m not sure it did come across to be honest but then I find it is harder to conduct a conversation over social media as we are limited by the fact that it is not face to face!!

      The other half and I have been watching Labour Party: The Wilderness Years and it has been eye-opening to say the least. The parallels are so clear with what’s happening now. Funnily enough it was Old Andrew who put the link in a tweet in the first place. If you haven’t already seen it, it is definitely worth seeing. I will be blogging about it next week when I have finished watching it all.

      I actually think that some of the hatred towards Gove is due to middle class snobbery in the first place. Whatever one thinks of the Conservatives or Gove – he is a child of poor parents who worked hard to get his education and therefore has this experience to build on. I get him about that. It is interesting that despite being a Conservative he has not hesitated to endorse Hirsch whose book is full of Gramscian quotes!!

      He said on a radio programme that it was more important that a love of history will instilled in pupils and that if that meant in the end they went off and decided that a Marxist-Leninist interpretation was better then so be it. I believed him because I think his passionate defence of educating others to the highest standards is not one to be dismissed. Look at what he has done already in his new role. He is right to increase educational opportunities in prisons and at least make that a priority instead of doing nothing to change the lives of those in there.

      The upper middle class left wingers are an interesting bunch and need to be examined in their own right as I truly believe they still hold onto their prejudice against the working class while wrapping a red flag around themselves. Mind you they would have considered Attlee to be too right wing as he didn’t turn this country into a communist state. Ideology matters to them more than real people, especially poor people do, because any damage done to them is collateral damage in the greater scheme of getting their own way. It seems to me a lack of maturity and understanding of responsibility to each other as human beings that is lacking.

      No idea is so great that it is worth making the lives of humans (who have but a short time on this Earth) a misery.

  8. Alan
    August 7, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

    I’ll have to work on my “communication skils”.

    Well said. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
    I’ll be watching for the Labour program. I suspect it is a case of history repeating itself, as it is said to do for those who do not learn from it. Or couldn’t learn from it because they were never taught it. Or, as my friend says, have been taught a false history.

    “No idea is so great that it is worth making the lives of humans (who have but a short time on this Earth) a misery.”
    Brilliant way to put it. A great pity so many disagree.

    • teachwell
      August 7, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

      I wouldn’t worry about communication skills – like I said it is just social media. I still find twitter hard as its very easy to come across as rude.

      The Labour Programme is old here’s the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIgiV8yn3xU (Ignore the Thatcherite Scot intros!! It’s just a pain!!).

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