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: Two French students murdered in London
Previous entry: Teach children philosophy!
Thursday July 03 2008

A current blog favourite of mine is the Spectator Coffee House blog, and they laugh at Ed Balls’s latest pronouncements, but actually most of what he says sounds not that ridiculous to me, although his notion of kids being tested without them even realising it does seem somewhat fanciful.  But I think he mostly emerges quite well from this interview, in contrast to how he lets himself look in this story.  Kindness and gentleness are all very well for schools, but when Ed Balls is in a hurry, forget about that.

As I often feel with incompetent socialist politicians, I think to myself, this man might have made a quite capable headmaster, and might actually have done some good, instead of either raging impotently at the ills of the institutions that he supposedly controls, or actually barging in to improve them, and thereby making them worse.

Anyway, the political cycle is such that it is rapidly ceasing to matter what Ed Balls thinks.  And you sense that even the New Statesman now realises this.

For an anti-Balls view that is serious rather than mocking, read the first comment at the NS:

My God, Ed Balls is employing some appalling sophistry with regard to SATs. Over the past 15 years or so, the push to ever more prescriptive curricula and more measurement has created huge amounts of performance anxiety in the education system. And, worst of all, is removing professional autonomy from educators. Children are not being taught how to think or question anything, merely pushed through a mechanistic process to turn out the service fodder for the 21st century that employers demand. Judging by recent comments from employers and the levels of literacy of school leavers, even this goal is not being met.

But according to Ed, it’s all the fault of the schools. This is such a transparent attempt to pass the buck that it would be plainly laughable, were it not for the fact that I am afraid he might actually be sincere. ...

But another commenter reacted much as I did:

Balls strikes absolutely the right tone here. He dismisses the media hysteria that seems to attach itself to stories involving children and yet acknowledges the kernel of truth upon which the stories are based. He sounds humane and measured - and, when attacked, manages to avoid sounding defensive.

It would be a good thing if Ball’s tone was replicated throughout the media.

Trouble is, it doesn’t matter how nice Mr Balls is when being interviewed.  He still presides over a nationalised industry in an advanced state of decay, and for that mere niceness is completely beside the point.  No wonder, when not performing to nice lady journalists, he opens car doors in people’s faces (see link above).