The Department for Education and Skills appears to be channelling for some of Charles Dicken's more grotesque characters. Gradgrind Gove has long been preaching his gospel of 'facts' and rote learning. Now he has decided that children and teachers are not working hard enough and has called for longer school days and shorter holidays. His sidekick M'Choakumchild Truss, not to be outdone in ensuring that our youngest citizens should not be permitted to slack, has this week criticised nurseries which allow toddlers to “run around with no sense of purpose.”
This week, I completed a survey on the BBC website to discover which class I belong to. In reality, I don't have much doubt about which class I belong to, so I was really discovering more about the people who designed the survey than I was about myself.
It is widely acknowledged among those who still care that academia in the UK is in very serious trouble, says Dr Michael Marten from the University of Stirling. The most infamous embodiment of the current malaise is a mechanism imposed upon universities by successive Westminster governments: a system of ‘research assessment’ driven by an ideology of neo-liberal commodification. Alternative perspectives and mechanisms are badly needed, he says.