Saturday, October 15, 2016

Michael Gove's war on 'soft' subjects was misconceived

Triangle ABC is larger than triangle DEF. How do you think triangle DEF feels about this?
It's a joke from an old Punt and Dennis radio show,but I thought of it when I read that some 'soft' subjects are no longer to be offered at A level.

According to the Independent, these include History of Art, Statistics, Classical Civilisation and Archaeology.

These strike me as perfectly valid areas of study for a sixth-former: Statistics is one of the many subjects I wish I knew more about.

More fundamentally, as the joke above shows, any subject can be hard of soft depending on how you examine it.

Somewhere behind the pressure to stop offering such subjects is the idea that teenagers are raw material for the economy without individual talents of interests.

The cull of soft subjects was an initiative from Michael Gove. However, since then he has told us that "people in this country have had enough of experts".

So why bother with academic rigour at all?


crewegwyn said...

I did O-level Statistics (in the 6th Form) in the 1970s. One of the most useful subjects I ever did. More use than the Latin I did at the same time!

Phil Beesley said...

Gove assumed that the only people wishing to study a qualification are teenagers. Whatever happened to continuing education? Or continuous education?

Gove isn't daft. I presume that he understood how crap his policies were before we knew.

There are some A Level subjects that are almost useless for 18 year olds: Maths will always beat Law or Psychology A Levels for a university place. Perversely, for a Psychology degree applicant, studying the A Level subject of choice is a disadvantage. Ditto for Law.

It is not a nice world for teen and educating adults when they have the chance to "go to university".