A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Woodhead on GCSEs and on centralisation
Previous entry: Yet another perverse incentive
Tuesday December 04 2007

A recent report said that England’s children are becoming more illiterate.  The Conservatives blame Ed Balls, the education minister.  Ed Balls blames computer games, as does the The Sun.  The computer games people blame The Sun, because it’s a tabloid and “written for mono-browed Neanderthals”.  (Presumably they didn’t blame Ed Balls because they didn’t want to seem too Conservative.)

Of these accusations, the silliest seems to me blaming The Sun.  If anything, The Sun has probably encouraged, if not a sophisticated level of cultural attainment, then at the very least the ability to decypher relatively simple words, by using relatively simple words to supply entertainment that the masses truly find truly entertaining.  Without The Sun, Britain would surely be that much more illiterate by now.

More seriously, when you observe rows like this, it is interesting to see what all sides agree about.  And in this row, all sides seem to agree that British child literacy is indeed now in a bad way.  And both Labour and the Conservatives now agree that synthetic phonics would improve matters, with Ed Balls accusing the Conservatives of stealing that idea from Labour.  Although I seem to remember Labour stealing it from the Conservatives a while back.