The ideological struggles over state education have not changed in forty years. The current episode will tell you all you need to know. Whenever a vaguely conservative-minded character happens into the role of Education Secretary and, being somewhat perturbed by the levels of innumeracy and illiteracy, and, if from the Labour Party, burdened with a guilty conscience, due to the grammar school education he or she most likely received, decides to attempt some modest reforms to get the system back to the hallowed three Rs, they are met with howls of outraged anguish from the heavily dug-in educational establishment. A close inspection reveals these self-proclaimed high priests of pedagogy to be dominated by Marxists, who, having captured the territory during their long march through the institutions, have no intention of yielding an inch.
It is worth pondering for a moment what Marxists believe in their hearts, the doctrine Marx taught them; namely that our society and economy must inevitably collapse, at which point the socialist utopia will rise from the dust. Inevitable though this apparently is, the forces of History could always use a little help, it seems, if only to repel the attempts of ‘reactionaries’ to hold back the cosmic dialectic, which although futile may retard the long-anticipated and glorious day. With this in mind, the miserable state of education in this country begins to make sense.
Gove’s fight is no different from that which was laid out in Melanie Phillips’ “All Must Have Prizes”, written 20 years ago, in which the conservative instincts of an earlier government were thwarted by a power greater than its own. Indeed, that government, in its attempt to wrest control of education from one set of lefties brought ever more centralisation to the system, in so doing it fashioned new weapons for the enemy. Perhaps Gove will be more successful, but the only sure way to victory is to break the state system into a thousand pieces and thereby destroy the power of the pinko dons.
Most parents are not interested in the pet theories these types peddle as ‘progressive’, none of which are new, all of which have been floating around for 100 years or more, since when they have all been tried and found wanting. Neither do they want their children brought up with the twisted knowledge the Marxists seek to implant, “the wisdom to overthrow this destructive and wasteful system” as Terry Wrigley, one of the instigators of the open letter to Gove would have it. These putrid pedagogues have every reason to fear the free market (N.B. a real free market, not just a transfer of the state system to corporate hands) A free parental choice between common sense education and communist indoctrination for their children would seal the latter’s fate.
Perhaps one or two Karl Marx Academies would be economically viable in such a free system. Given the massive over-supply of potential staff, the pupil – teacher ratio will very likely be most competitive.
The above is in regard to this letter, covered in the Mail and Telegraph, and these responses from Harry Mount, Toby Young and John Rentoul. Various articles by or relating to Terry Wrigley can be found here, here, here and here.