Michael Gove is not a popular education secretary. The fact that he has been the subject of a vote of no confidence from both of the major teaching unions stands as a testament to this. But then again, this shouldn't be surprising. Very few education secretaries are ever popular. And there's a very simple reason for this.
Despite the fact that few - if any - education secretaries have actually been teachers, they seem to believe they know what's better for teachers and schools than the teachers themselves.
This is something that has always confused me. I fail to understand why, as soon as a party takes power, or before then when they are writing their manifestoes, they start talking to think tanks and analysts and specialists and then come up with an education policy, rather than getting the teaching unions in a room, and going "Right. Other than better pay and less paperwork, what can we actually do to make education better? Tell us. You are the experts."
Because they are. Someone who has been teaching for 20 years is far more likely to know what makes schools good and teaching easier than someone who worked for The Times before becoming an MP. It's not rocket science, it's just common sense.
This isn't just true of the education system either. Want to know what's best for the NHS? Why not ask the doctors and the nurses. As the people who spend their lives as part of it, they probably have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen in order to make it better. Get their opinions and not only will you have decent policy, but you will have their support when you come to announce it, something you can use as clout with the electorate.
Government, especially in the UK, is supposed to be representative. That's why we are called a "representative democracy." Our MPs represent the people and are apparently supposed to listen to what they have to say, and act accordingly. And yet, when it comes to forming policy, they never seem to be willing to listen. Rather, they go with what they think is the right thing to do, regardless of how many voices are screaming at them to stop and think and try again. Then they wonder at election time why nobody is happy with them, or with what they are doing.
If politicians are really keen to get people interested in politics again, then they need to make politics relevant, and, yes, representative. Rather than simply passing down commandments and policies from on high, they need to come down here with the rest of us, ask our opinions, get our views. And when they have them, they need to do something with them. Only then, will people truly believe that politicians have their best interests at heart, and only then will they feel comfortable getting involved with politics again. It's not hard. They just need to start listening.
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