Michael Gove, arguably one of the most divisive Education Secretaries in history, is gone. No longer Secretary of State, David Cameron reshuffled the hell out of him this week and like a crap football team, Gove was relegated to the position of Chief Whip.
By the looks of things, many teachers found out via Twitter and like a lot of news consumers, I too found out on the social media site. The unadulterated hatred for Gove has been existent during his whole tenure. I mean videos of him falling over were already made while he was still in the job, let alone demoted.
While tales of teachers whooping, fist-pumping, and planning parties spread across the Twitterverse, I waited for the announcement of his replacement. I knew it would be a woman (Cameron is aware of the general election hurtling towards him and he’s trying to play image for the electorate) so when
relative unknown Nicky Morgan assumed the role, I wasn’t entirely surprised. While many mourned the loss of Gove, and more still rejoiced, I wondered how much of a good thing this actually was, and whether anyone would believe, as ferociously as Gove did, that children from an estate could do just as well as any other child.
I read many pieces about Mr Gove’s demise, but three stood out as the very best for me: this by John Elledge in the New Statesman, a very good blog post by Cazzy Pot, and this Sp!ked piece by a lecturer at my alma mater the University of Kent. News of Gove’s surprise move was all over the media, including broadcast. It was while listening to a radio show that I heard a caller – a teacher – ring in to give her thoughts on the matter. After the presenter corrected her a few times, he went on to tell her that Mr Gove had been brought up on a council estate, to which she replied:
Well he doesn’t seem to reflect that in the way that he talks about education
I went ballistic.
As far as I’m aware and as pointed out in the excellent pieces that I’d read on his departure, Michael Gove was committed to improving standards in education and making sure children from less privileged backgrounds maximised their potential. His methods may have been rubbish, but I’m not in education so can’t quite judge. What’s important is that the radio caller’s comments referring to the way Gove “talks about education” illustrates perfectly why his crusade was a worthy one.
How pray tell do council estate dwellers talk about education? God forbid that anybody from an estate could ever talk about raising standards, or would focus on improving literacy and numeracy. No. We’re far too scummy.
My best guess as to why that woman couldn’t believe that Gove was anything other than a private school-Tory-by-default-posho? Too many, including faux liberals, still believe that children from a disadvantaged/ poor background have no aspirations. We don’t have books on our shelves, we have televisions wider than the wingspan of albatrosses, and nobody helps us with our homework when we get home. At least this is the spiel propagated time and time again in some media.
Too many people with left leanings think that young, black, poor, females like myself will automatically agree with – or worse, be grateful for – their views. That isn’t the case. Instead I’m faced with the reality that many on the Right despise the disadvantaged and many on the Left patronise the disadvantaged. The question that’s left is who then will defend and believe in those marginalised groups? The one person who had a shot at doing that has been rather unceremoniously reduced in rank.
I believe teaching is one of the most important jobs out there. There probably was no Education Secretary who generated so much hatred as Gove, and I sympathise with the teachers who he so mercilessly and arrogantly antagonised. However I question the decency of people who celebrate somebody’s loss of a job. Typical of life here in the UK: people love to see others fail.
Anybody who has the intent of trying to make sure children from certain sections of society have a shot at being great gets some kudos from me. He probably deserved it, but as one of those estate kids, I can’t help but lament his demise.