Monday, 16 June 2014

ENGLAND: 'ERADICATION OF ILLITERACY'

Why not?
A question of belief

Consider this snippet of English political news from a week ago –
The Conservatives will pledge to eradicate illiteracy within a generation under plans being considered by David Cameron [Prime Minister].
The election pledge in the party’s manifesto would ensure that all children leave school with strong reading and maths skills and follows a speech from Michael Gove [Education Secretary] on Saturday where he will outline his moral crusade to 'save lives which are currently wasted', the Times reports.
The election pledge could widen the Tories’ appeal before the general election next year. About 15 per cent of children leave primary school in England without reaching the expected reading and maths level for their age. Literacy and numeracy rates of 100 per cent are difficult because of children with special needs, but a potential target of 95 per cent could be realistic.

This announcement has provoked no national interest over the week since it appeared. A campaign for the liquidation of illiteracy, In England! At least in the schools! And written into a party manifesto for the forthcoming election. Radical stuff with a firm promise of action. Surely England now looks forward to educational and cultural renaissance for all. And if not, why not?

So why not?

The answer is already given, within the very passage cited above:
Literacy and numeracy rates of 100 per cent are difficult because of children with special needs, but a potential target of 95 per cent could be realistic.

What sort of universal, educational program considers it 'reasonable' to write off five percent of its target population even before the campaign begins?

What sort? The sort that bears the stamp of the same old defeatist attitude, the same pedagogical pessimism, the same fatalistic philosophy of education as has dragged down English state education since... well, as least since the abolition of the school boards a century or so ago.

Is there any reason to expect anything but more of the same outcomes from our education system as long as people continue act in the same way, within the framework of the same way of thinking, the same understandings, the same philosophy of child development and education? The Government unproblematically writes itself the built-in let-out clause that some children just cannot be expected to learn. There is no public or political outcry at this dehumanising negativity, presumably because it fits with the assumptions of society as a whole – it is 'just common sense' that some people will not learn.​

If that is indeed what is generally believed, what chance is there for any educational approach proclaiming the goal and reality of human transformability?

Reference

Perry, P. (2014) Michael Gove says Tories will aim to wipe out illiteracy within a generation, Daily Telegraph, 7 June

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10883176/Michael-Gove-says-Tories-will-aim-to-wipe-out-illiteracy-within-a-generation.html

(The image illustrating this article is that of Michael Gove, England's present Secretary of State for Education)

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