Monday, 8 July 2013

All touched by the same pain

Rejoice, schoolchildren (who are not in academy schools) of England! Your new Gove Curriculum is fresh minted, ready for your enjoyment!

Oh happy six-year old! You are sure to find your new Govian study interesting and engaging. Soon, you will be able to spell synonym, calculate four-fifths plus two-thirds, and know why England has an empire. (But no learning about the Opium Wars, not unless you want a thrashing.)

Yes, the new Govian national curriculum will be inspiring and triumphant! It reflects generous consultation and wide-ranging committee discussion, as befits our lives in egalitarian times. Over the coming days, the joyous populace will continue to contribute to the great discussion, via the internet forums of slanging matches, gratuitous insults and trolling, to engage with our great educational, social, and cultural debates. Not Gove himself, obviously. He decided these matters in 1953 and is presently not for budging.

Yet the new curriculum now stands as the marque of Britain Worldwide. From this date - to be celebrated henceforth as Day Zero of the International Gove Day of the New Curriculum - we can expect each and every six year old to do their duty: contribute to the Hong Kong league championships.

If Britain fails? It is not the fault of Govian aspiration! Let us lay the blame now at those recalcitrant parents who fail to achieve the best for Tinkertop in her 12xtables. They probably do not care, are scrounging all your benefits, have no scruples or morals, and insist on only wearing branded trainers.

You might think I have no right to even discuss the Gove Curriculum, educating as we are on the wrong side of the river, but I can say that we home educating types stand alongside you; we need your support as you need ours. The home education world is deeply tribal, yet the dark Govian shadow embraces us all, touching us in his special way.

Yes, we have the autonomous Lord of the Flies brigade lost in the woods, setting about each other with the weaponry of autonomy and anarchy, but just wait until the magic age of 15 is reached, then watch an almighty scramble to find out what kids at school have done for the past 10 years in order to catch up and steal those GCSE passes A* to C.

We have the far-out religious too - seen only when they emerge from the Jumble for Jesus war zone to threaten us with the apocalypse - but see them wave Tinkertop's triple A* grades in Religious Studies.

We have the home ed business too! They'll be swotting up, selling educational services (trip to field, add to cart, $40), useful if you can't be arsed to organise the trip yourself for free, but full of the lingo of the key stage attainment targets.

And we have the structured school-at-home, preferring the CRB-checked tutors to provide regular homework for their 8-year olds, ready to slip Tinkertop back into school at any moment. Keep up with the curriculum they must.

You can see, can you not, how each of us, although we crash wildly on this side of the fence, is affected in some way by what happens on your side of the fence.

If Gove introduces a new regime - a bright shiny International glow of promise - you can bet we'll be just as you - forced to find out about it, read up on bits of it, search for interpretations and definitions, before slyly sitting Tinkertop down with an approved worksheet while covertly lecturing her on how great are our gun boats.

It is better, therefore, to think of us too facing the Govian thumb, one way or another. He affects the culture of all. Then for maybe the first time, pity your fellow parents - we home educating ones - destined to suffer, alongside yourselves, as we try, like you, to remember our pre-decimal 7x12.

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