Why Gove knows ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing.’


For an Education Minister to utter such words seems to suggest that he doesn’t understand the role of his job and therefore should not be in such a position of power and influence.  There should not be a price on education with everybody regardless of background having the same opportunities.  It appears Gove and his ilk believe that everything has a price.  Furthermore it enforces the notion that only the ruling elite should be entitled to go on to further education.  This isn’t for the lower orders to contemplate, never mind entering the hallowed halls of such establishments.  ‘Why they might get ideas above their stations and want to run the country!’

Even the whole set up of league tables and the structure of lessons are all geared towards results rather than opening minds.  Although it’s been a while since I did A’ levels everything was about passing and getting the relevant grades.

This though hasn’t deterred Gove who believes being taught by rote is the only way of educating.  In a 2012 speech to the Independent Academies Association, Gove spoke of his belief in tough exams and learning by rote ‘Only when facts and concepts are committed securely to the working memory, so that it is no effort to recall them and no effort is required to work things out from first principles, do we really have a secure hold on knowledge.’ 

Yes, you can provide the answers which you know will be enough to get you that mark but it doesn’t give you enough of an understanding or real liking of the subject.  My early education was like that.  For example although we briefly covered the Chartists in British history, we didn’t go in-depth.  Again it was all geared towards what possible questions may come up in the exams.  It was only during a recent TU history course that I attended that I had a better understanding of the Chartist movement.

Higher grades means the school’s prestige is enhanced and the reputation can be sold to prospective Parents.  Plus, it can be the difference between the funding a school gets for the following year.

The Conservatives though seem to believe that everything  has a price whether it’s education or health.  Lord Henry in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Gray,’ is quoted as saying ‘Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.’  He could quite easily be talking about Gove and the Tories philosophy to life rather than an old piece of brocade.

Putting it quite simply there shouldn’t be a price that you have to pay for a first class education nor should schools be made to feel like examination factories.  Getting a high grade doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand the topic.  It can just mean you know how to pass the exam.  You have an idea of what type of question will come up, and it’s just a case of forming enough of a response containing the information that you think will get you high marks.   All incidentally the result of rote teaching.

Education should not just be about teaching but also encouraging people to challenge and think for themselves.  If a person has a love for a certain subject, it should be supported and the pupil given greater scope to take further if they so wish.  There is no chance of that if education is just seen as a mere commodity and ensuring that the relevant boxes are ticked.

Incidentally education should be for all ages.  Whether you’re a sixteen year old preparing for your GCSE’s or fifty something wishing to take an interest in the works of Charles Dickens, this should be encouraged.  It’s never too late to want to learn and knowledge can only enrich you as a person.

Maybe Gove and the Tories want education out of the reach of the ordinary person.  After all if people have a better understanding and knowledge the political elite might start to be questioned more and we can’t have that can we?

Brian Benjamin


Author: Brian Benjamin

I love football and will watch any game. Writing is also a passion of mine and apart from writing about football I have also tried my hand at short stories in my spare time.

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