Wednesday, 22 February 2012


What to say?

Last year yet another of HMG's ill-founded directives on how to bring up and educate children as prompted by the insufficiencies of its previous one on the same particular topic, the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage),  as a lot of them are.   And as ever, the paid help swung smartly into step with the new tune now being played by its paymasters.

Beware bureaucrats bearing statements that open with the words 'I welcome', sure sign of formulaic incantation to follow. Here is a statement by a professor, given to The Psychologist magazine, saying that she welcomed the new recommendations. Reproducing this here I have presented in bold the words and phrases that are mere incantation –

I welcome, also, the recognition of the vital role played by parents and carers as partners in young children's learning; the significance of young children's personal, social and emotional development; the appropriateness of a play-based approach to learning; and the importance of highly qualified staff who, sensitively and skilfully, are able to extend young children's play, thinking and understanding.

You could not make it up. Extract the hot air and the professor's personal contribution reduces to

...also, the … as ... the ...the … and the ...who ... are able to ...

I do not know what I find the greatest achievement here, the intellectual poverty or the sheer shamelessness.


I am reminded here in part of the fondly recalled hoax by Alan Sokal, played upon an academic journal of the post-modernist persuasion:

Perhaps this is what Professor Trisha Maynard was pulling on The Psychologist magazine, in which case all congratulations to her for exposing a publication that really ought to be getting its act together at a level to meet its pretensions. If that were the case then neither its readership (to judge from subsequent correspondence columns) nor its editorship appears to have spotted her critical intervention.

Mock not. Learn

It will not be long now till HMG produces its further thoughts on what to do about the sad state of special educational needs in England, a matter of very direct relevance to the continuing work of everyone in that country concerned for the future of conductive services for children and young people. CE's small and dispersed institutions in England will have their own intellectual and moral dilemmas to face, and may even wish to make public statements in response to what the Government says.

Perhaps they should look to Professor Maynard. At the very least, start what they are going to say with the sure signal of 'I welcome'.


(2011) 'Nappy curriculum' softened, The Psychologist, 13 April

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