Unfortunately, I predict the pressures on teachers can only increase and morale decrease as education is reconfigured to fit with antiquated ‘Govian mechanics’.
Gove believes teaching is a perfunctory process not unlike any factory assembly line. Schools are factories where workers (the teachers) need to carry out the same tasks day in, day out, and in the same way, in order to produce the same goods (the pupils).
In Gove’s factory, it’s all about the worker’s productivity and little real attention paid to the machinery or the product itself (as long as it passes quality control this is). Gove ignores the fact that teachers and pupils are beings, and beings possessing volition. They possess volition because they have a highly developed brain which enables them to be…thoughtful, introspective and…emotional, none of the variables found in an automated factory assembly line. Because we humans possess this complex consciousness, there arises psychology, the science of the mind or of mental processes. And whatever linear, one dimensional ideas Gove has, he can’t deny that learning is all about mental processes. As a consequence then (whether Mr Gove likes it or not) there exists a psychology of learning and because of this theories of learning have been developed. These theories have influenced every part of teaching and form the basis of what teachers do everyday in their classrooms. It is the lineage of these theories which underpins teacher training and means that teachers are versed in practises, derived from theories, which have resulted from rigorous academic research.
In this way, teaching is nothing like Gove’s mechanical factory; teaching is a deep and thoughtful profession which must have at its heart an academic foundation in the theories of learning. You cannot do away with, as I fear Gove really believes, teacher training and teacher training establishments. You cannot simply take individuals from society who are rich in subject knowledge or experts in their fields and plonk them in schools without any understanding of learning and how it works. Pedagogy is a real thing and without it, you will have dysfunctional classrooms, full off individuals who are there simply because they ‘know a lot’.
Powering the repetitive clank of Govian mechanics then is the dusty idea that a pupil is an empty vessel, waiting to filled. For Gove, knowledge is king, not unlike that Dickensian teacher in Hard Times who lived for his ‘facts, facts, facts!’ Gove is sending us back to an era of lifeless classrooms, where only memory counts and the number of facts you know equates with your academic prowess and teacher quality is equated with how many facts they can throw and how many of them stick. Disaster!