Listening to Christine Blower at the NUT conference today reminded The Slog of Private Eye’s anti-hero Dave Spart at his unconsciously hilarious worst.
I hope Michael Gove was watching the Teachers’ national conference on BBCNews this morning. We were taken over live to see some kind of reincarnated 1940s Russian crypto-Communist triumphaliste being wildly applauded. When I say ‘applauded, I mean noisily worshipped as if she might perhaps be Stalin shortly after an especially severe purge. To be fair, there wasn’t much physical resemblance – Stalin had a less obvious moustache – but the auto-Praesidium reaction she got made me realise yet again just how many of the failed Hard Left of yesteryear have survived unscathed.
The lady in question was the NUT’s General Secretary, Christine Blower. In 1973 she took her first teaching post at Holland Park School, a nice middle-class comprehensive in Kensington & Chelsea,which was then part of that paragon of excellence, the ILEA. There she taught French, revelling in the school’s decision to change from streamed to mixed-ability teaching. Ms Blower prefers this style of teaching becasue – she claims – it does not “create the sheep and goatssituation that comprehensives were set up to avoid”. What Blower will never face up to, sadly, is that this ‘style’ of teaching produces the double-whammy of bored clever kids and frightened average kids. This ‘style’ of teaching, in fact, makes the clever lazy and the average alienated. After thirty or more years of it, we now have a State education system that ranks 24th in the world. As a result of this ‘style’ of teaching, only Mexico, Portugal and Turkey have worse dropout records than us.
Her ‘review’ of the teachers’ year consisted of the following: fighting alongside anti-fascists, crushing the BNP, smashing the English Defence League, organising anti-racist rock concerts for Hope Not Hate, and sending fraternal donations to the Anti-Nazi League of Radicalised Vegans or whatever they call themselves these days. It was like being in Peter Hain’s head during a nocturnal emission.
Now here are some words entirely missing from her review: education, children, schools, standards, training, excellence, professionalism, the future generation, and abject failure across the board to teach children either social or foreign language skills.
I don’t mind Harriet Harman being deranged, because the more power she and Jack Droney have in the Labour Party, the less chance they have of ever forming a government again in any country anywhere with the possible exception of Asbuckishtan which is a place I just invented. But I do mind very much if maniacal fanatics like this woman wind up bending the mind of my grandchildren. People like her twenty-six years ago put me through a paroxysm of social guilt, by instantly making it clear to me that private education for my own kids was the only way to avoid rearing two ignorant but mindlessly radicalised yobettes.
Why did I want my kids to have a State education? Why was I racked with guilt? I will tell you – without an iota of apology. Because my Grammar School education took me to institutions, experiences, foreign climes, stimulating debates, academic achievement, enormous professional satisfaction and an infinitely broader mind, without myself or my parents having to pay a single penny for it. And because I could never have looked myself in the mirror had I inflicted something utterly worthless on my own children through petty polemics or financial meanness. As Dianne Abbot and her fellow hypocrites would I’m sure agree, this is what it means to be a parent. Oliver Letwin said a few years back that he would rather beg in the streets than send his children to a politicised agit-prop inner-city hotbed of mediocrity. Amen to every word of that.
Many readers will write off this piece as the right-wing rambling of a grubby lower middle-class kid on the make. To which I can only answer, “bollocks”. I despise David Cameron every bit as much for his Etonian-grown decision to drop the reinstitution of Grammar Schools from the Tory manifesto. How smug, bloated and entirely cloned are all these public-school Krug Socialists like Harman, Clegg, and Blair; and how right was Graham Brady - a product of a fine Mancunian Grammar School – to resign from the Opposition Front Bench on the issue of high standards in State Education.
So as I say, I sincerely hope Mr Gove was watching this claptrap, and that he will at last realise the die-hard cadres of bourgeois weekend militancy he’s up against. Because if either he – or more likely, the ever-obliging Prime Minister – were to start back-tracking on the wholesale reinstatement of excellent free education in our culture, then they will have betrayed the future of all our grandchildren.