The man actually said ‘yada-yada-yada’

When I hadn’t been blogging for too long, I wrote a paragraph about Michael Gove. In effect, I was saying that while I was fascinated by the proliferation of informed views one can be exposed to via social media, about policies, movements or influential individuals, I didn’t like it when it crossed a line into being personal. I was magnanimous enough to defend our Education Minister, as via twitter he gets a lot of very personal abuse. But is he earning my sympathy? I think not. It ran out last Thursday night.

Feeling all grown up, I got in with the folk who look forward to BBC Question Time last week, as soon as I picked up that Mr Gove was going to be on. All the serious journalists I admire like Zoe Williams of The Guardian, or Helen Lewis of the New Statesman, form a little cluster on Thursday evening and tweet eloquently for all they are worth. Full of anticipation, I tweeted Michael Rosen (literary god and vehement anti-Gove tweeter) to say I was looking forward to what he had to say during the programme – and he retweeted me! Ah the democracy of twitter gets me all excited again…. And I digress.

10.40pm came round, and we were off. Also on the panel were two other folk whose politics seemed ‘somewhat right of centre’, The leader of the Green Party (who uttered a lot of sense throughout the programme), and Emily Thornberry, Shadow Attorney General. A good way in to the programme, the inevitable question about the National Curriculum was posed, and off went Gove into his extended rhetoric about how kids need knowledge before they can get creative. When challenged by Mrs Thornberry about the basis of this claim he actually used the phrase ‘yada yada yada’ at her; she looked momentarily stunned, her mind trying to compute that a supposedly literate and professional politician with a senior place in the cabinet could have possibly been so bloody patronising. Despite the other three members of my household all being in bed by this point I did start shouting at the telly at his darn rudeness, and I didn’t hold back on the personal insults. My blog-promise to stay polite was broken – and I feel no regret.

You see, really, we should all be alarmed, should all be shouting at the telly. This man is in charge of the education system in this country for the foreseeable future. He has never worked in education. His view of how the history curriculum should be shaped, for example, has much more in common with a set of pub quiz questions (not my words) and does nothing to promote the critical thinking that actually defines the academic excellence so often achieved here in the UK. His attitude towards early years and primary education is, to me at least, utterly terrifying. He appears to dismiss the huge body of evidence articulately put together by the Cambridge Primary Review that makes it clear to anyone reading it that we aren’t getting this stuff right. We are failing to engage and inspire many of our very young children, and he does not appear to care. He seems preoccupied with a very narrow, cartoon-esque version of education, one that has kids learning their times tables by standing up in class to recite them. Sit in rows, keep silent, put your hand up, don’t think for yourself, be disaffected. A few of you will be OK but the rest will remember school through a negative, shadowy lens.

My bouncy, bright and busy 4-year-old will start school in September. I am very happy with our choice of school, and I have considered all the options possible, and am largely at peace with the notion of letting others shape her learning experiences alongside my hubby and me. But for the first time, I am really starting to feel alarmed that this man could wield so much power over my question-filled, curious girl. Her classroom teacher comes across as a woman of clear, independent thinking, but how much of the crap that falls from on high can she realistically keep out of her classroom?

And (again, for effect) he actually used the phrase ‘yada-yada-yada’ on prime time television, to a fellow professional public servant. Be afraid – very, very afraid.

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10 thoughts on “The man actually said ‘yada-yada-yada’

  1. Idiot man! Wish I’d seen it. Hopefully someone will sample his ‘yada yada’ and make it go viral on youtube to expose him as the uninspiring individual he is and show how he needs to let someone else, who hasn’t had their creativity educated out of them, take his place!

    • Here’s hoping Carol. I am. I hate the way succesive generations of children are the guinea pigs of one individual, usually poorly qualified and short-termist in their thinking. Thanks for getting this off your chest!!!

  2. Your last but one paragraph says it all for me-I feel I’m battling against a tide of ideology to which I don’t subscribe and our teacher’s are powerless to stop it too. It’s one of the reasons I chose not to teach-I’m no good at dealing with the crap, whether it be the minutiae or the larger kind! But I’ll use my voice in any way I can….

    • I am hopeful that the groundswell will present effective opposition to this and the whole childcare ratios concept-shift suggested by Liz Truss. Mus tweet the consultation links TODAY! I loved your piece too, and I don’t half like being part of a like-minded digital community….

      • I hope so too. It’s reassuring to find that there are plenty of like minded thinkers out there willing to speak out.
        I also agree about the childcare ratio’s-it may work in Scandinavia but they have a very different culture, ethos and approach that makes it work. Merely ‘lifting’ it and shoving it into our devalued system is nonsense. Oh yes, it’ll save them a few pennies apparently, never mind the future costs this government are storing up for us all in the future….

  3. hello,

    Did you actually watch all of it to the point where he explained why he said “Yada Yada”? If you are going to quote him saying “Yada yada” please quote all he said.

  4. I’m not keen on getting into a battle here. But, my most honest reponse is to say that yes, I do know why he said it – in fact I’ve just watched the clip again on Channel 4 news – but my argument is that no politician should ever behave in that way to a fellow colleague from the House of Commons.

  5. Pingback: White-haired radicalism and the evidence-free administration: The Evernote Files | Hunky Dory Early Years

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