Well, look who is writing the column for a clue.
...school means choices, and there are competing ideas about what school is for. The position firmly in place now in England, thanks largely to the influence of Michael Gove during his time as education secretary, is that our schools should focus their attention on producing units of sellable labour power (school leavers), and these units should be seen as being more or less able to compete in what ministers call the global labour market; there is an agreed amount of knowledge that needs to be transferred from teachers to pupils so that they can become these competitive units.Yes, yes, it's all about producing obedient drones for the communist mach... excuse me, for the capitalist machine, isn't it?
Well, what would you have them learn instead..?
I might soon arrive at a school and do a poetry workshop with some younger teenagers. It could well go like this. They make it clear that they don’t like poetry. I tell them poetry comes in hundreds of different shapes, sizes, rhythms and moods; one way we can make poems is in a group and without writing anything down. For example, the people who are in charge of us in life have ways of showing they are fed up with us, angry with us, or through which they try to control us; punish us, even. What do such people say? I suggest they go into pairs and say these kinds of things to each other – in role, as parents, teachers, carers. We select the best lines. Then I say, can we create this into a scene? They suggest that all the lines should be said to just one of them sitting in a chair; the rest stand in a semicircle around him, and as they each say their line they point at the boy in the chair and then step back, while the semicircle repeats a chosen chorus.
We have made a snapshot of one aspect of their lives. It has rhythm, structure, solo and chorus, movement and mimesis. Later they can perform it for others, write a transcript of it and “publish” it on a school blog. We can talk about what we have made: what worked? Was it like any other poems or plays? This is the arts in action.If so, you can keep it, Michael.
Because what you're doing is not 'art'. What you are doing is focussing young minds on their grievances, with no thought given to why these parents, teachers and carers are saying what they are saying to these children.
But then, how else can you ensure a steady stream of future Labour voters?