Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mr Gove or Mr Fussy?

What should you do if your well-publicised speech turns out to be based on misinformation? If you're the Education Secretary, apparently nothing. Michael Gove made a speech in which he said "One set of history teaching resources suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler as a Mr Men story. I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves's work, but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat"

His speechwriter has come up with a decent line, but it's very misleading. This morning, I interviewed Russel Tarr, the teacher who is in Mr Gove's firing line. Unsurprisingly, he's furious. He explained that at the end of an intensive six-week course on the Weimar Republic, his GCSE students are required to explain the rise of Hitler to nine-year old primary children, as an exercise to show understanding and communication. The students used Mr Men characters in the exercise, which was very successful.

When challenged on this misdirection, Mr Gove is quoted as saying simply "Read my speech". As Russel Tarr told me, "I wonder what Mr Gove would make of Communism explained with farm animals? Perhaps he's unaware of George Orwell".

My point is not political, but my question is this. If you were challenged after a speech on the basis of misinformation, how would you handle it?
 Picture Credit : Roger Hargreaves Creative Commons

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