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(satire – sort of)

Education secretary praises learning by rote and avoidance of vulgarity as he explains the philosophy behind his shake-up of schools and exams

Learning facts by rote accompanied by character-building cold baths, regular beatings with a leather strap and applications of six of the best from a well-oiled cane to the nether regions should be a central part of the school experience, the education secretary, Michael Gove, will argue on Wednesday in a speech which praises traditional methods of learning.

In his address, titled In Praise of Stout Educational Virtues and Avoidance of Unwholesome Excesses of Youth, Gove describes the ideological underpinning to his planned shake-up of British schools, a philosophy which is likely to prompt criticisms from Conservative Party traditionalists worried that he is seeking to drag the party forward several hundred years from the stone age into the middle of the 19th century.

Competitive, difficult exams for which pupils must prepare by memorising large amounts of facts by rote – while at the same time making sure naked table legs are adequately covered to avoid arousal of bestial urges – will ensure motivation, solidify knowledge and guarantee highest standards of moral hypocrisy in Britain’s Godless, Devil-spawned wayward youth, Gove is to tell the Independent Academies Association, a trade body for academy schools.

According to extracts of the speech provided by his department, Gove will say:

Exams matter because motivation matters if we are to avoid an excess of cads, ruffians, suffragettes and fallen women in our schools.

If we know tests are rigorous, and they require application to pass, then the experience of being made to stand in a freezing bath while reciting passages from the Bible – without the upsetting bits of course – spurs us on to further endeavours and deeper learning.

Gove professes himself a great fan of Daniel Willingham, a US cognitive psychologist who has sought to use scientific research to show pupils learn best through the use of memory, routine, pain and hypocrisy, arguments outlined in a book, Why Don’t Students Like Going Up Chimneys?, also popular with free schools guru Toby Young.


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