English in the News: Tom Rank Surveys Media Coverage of English

Article excerpt

"I think the problem has been, over the last 13 years, teaching as a profession has had the initiative, the fun, the enjoyment squeezed out of it ..." Michael Gove on Today, Radio 4, November 2010

"The Secretary of State proposes to 'cast teachers as the guardians of the country's intellectual heritage" The Guardian, November 2010

Gove: we need to reform English

I heard you on the radio, Mr Gove ...

Quiet! You've got to finish your essays on the Poets Laureate.

But you've only let us choose from Dryden to Southey. I want to write about Carol Ann Duffy--otherwise it's all dead white males. Apart from Andrew, of course, he's still in motion. I hope you don't mind a joke, sir. You said you wanted us to have fun and take initiative.

Can you help me, sir? This bit: 'before polygamy was made a sin,' is that about the failures of multiculturalism? Because I think that's an intellectually suspect argument, with respect, sir, even if your friend Mr Cameron says it.

Stop this now! I've told you what you've got to do--it's not up to me to tell you how to do it. Don't you ungrateful children want freedom? Now get on with it or you won't get your English Bac.

Won't get our English back, sir? Are you referring to the story in today's Guardian that France wants to 'reinvent' English language teaching? Have you outsourced our teachers to France, sir, like the electricity and gas? Or is this about global English, sir? I was reading Deborah Cameron's review of Ostler's 'The Last Lingua Franca' in the Guardian Review and she says his 'argument depends on an unrealistic techno-optimism, and puts too much emphasis on the supposed primeval bond between speakers and their mother tongues'. But she praised it as being 'thought-provoking and refreshingly free from anglocentric cliches'. Is the English Bac an anglocentric cliche, sir?

Gove blames Labour for 'soft' subjects studied

Stop showing off, Emily, you know that's only Media Studies and it doesn't count. Softy subjects won't get you a job on the Times like Mr Gove and his wife. Then you can become a millionaire and you need at least that much to get into the Cabinet these days. And you know he doesn't like the Guardian, it's all bleeding heart liberals--and said vote for the Lib Dems: even you know what losers they are. They promised to abolish tuition fees--and now look, if I want to go to a posh university it's going to cost me 9,000 [pounds sterling] a year so I'll never get a job with News International. That's why we all went on strike, even if it did make sir cross. We thought we were showing initiative and getting involved in the big society, like he keeps telling us.

Didn't you go on strike sir? I've just done a quick search on my phone and it says you did once--and it was over union representation. I thought you said the unions were all Old Labour and wanted to drag us back to the dark ages, like the 1970s before the blessed Margaret delivered us?

I did say that, Sean, because I've seen the light and left the Church of Scotland for the Church of England.

Is that a metaphor sir? Anyway, you're from Scotland: did you do the Scottish Bac?

No, Blake, because I've only just invented it. Anyway, Emily, don't worry about university, you can always get a job in one of the fantastic free schools I'm setting up--you won't need any qualifications to teach there.

Michael Gove: my revolution for culture in the classroom

No thanks, sir. They're opening one in the old factory down the road--it'll have no playing fields or proper gym or anything. They should call it 'Dark Satanic Mills School'--do you like that, sir? Is part of our intellectual heritage to go back to the Eighteenth Century?

What a good idea, Emily! I'll just put that into the history bit of the new curriculum and tell Simon Schama. You know, we've embarked on a Long March to reform our education system and it's going to be jolly bracing. …

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