Good Book, Bad Idea

Gove! Michael Gove! If he didn’t exist, you’d have to invent him. Apparently he is the Education Secretary, and one of his mad ideas involves sending a copy of the King James Bible to every school in the country. And to enhance the importance of this splendid tome, each copy will carry the name of Gove! Immortal saviour of the intellectual heritage of Grande Bretagne! (It is uncertain if anyone of a different faith – Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs – will be interested in carefully studying this hefty tome…)

But now the good Saint Michael has decided that the ‘GCSE’ exam is to be phased out and replaced with the old ‘O’ level, a decision which has been applauded as a step to restore academic excellence. Perhaps we should remind Mr G that ‘O’ stands for ordinary; this was at one time considered the basic degree of intelligence among typical teenagers.

Surely everyone should remember that the O-levels which I sat back in 1980 were dismissed as being a feeble shadow of the real O-level exams inflicted on schoolchildren in the 1950s. Oh happy days!

Is he going to insist on the return of Slide Rules and Log Tables for mathematics lessons? Calculating anti-corrosive primer coverage in ounces per square yard rather than grams per square metre? Pounds per gallon, instead of kilograms per litre?

Journal Entry, 29 Mar ’88:
Centre for Policy Studies (Tory Think-Tank) recently issued guidelines for a national testing system for schoolkids. You know the sort of thing – being able to recite ‘I had a little nut-tree’ and tell the time by age 7, and have read 3 Shakespeare plays by age 16.  I’m a failure cos I haven’t read any Shakespeare and I’m 24.

Journal Entry, 12 Feb ’89:
Yesterday bought ‘Grimus’ by Salman Rushdie & ‘The Stagnant Society’. In the news: tax allowances to be increased in budget, student loans, net book agreement, Sunday trading, Royal Opera House going to turn into Disneyland, rail link from London to Channel tunnel going to wipe out house prices, Edwina Currie and listeria in eggs, Sky TV launched, water firms to be privatised etc….


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