Published in TES magazine on 22 June, 2012
This week: Rod Liddle
We read a lot of stupid attacks on teachers by newspaper columnists, but Rod Liddle’s rant in last week’s Sunday Times was notably idiotic.
Liddle argued that teachers were opposing changes to the national curriculum because they hated having to teach facts. “For decades teachers have argued that schooling has to be ‘fun’ – which is, for too many of them, a euphemism for ‘a bit of a doddle’,” he wrote.
Teachers refused to correct mistakes, Liddle wrote, and regarded getting children to spell things correctly as “inherently dictatorial and even fascistic”, partly because they could not spell themselves. Instead of teaching times tables, he suggested, teachers preferred to fill children’s heads with politically correct propaganda or let their pupils play with loo rolls.
The column bore no resemblance to reality, particularly the work teachers already do teaching spelling and times tables to meet the requirements of tests, targets and the existing curriculum. But Liddle wasn’t going to let facts stop him from patronising teachers for their supposed lack of interest in facts.
You could dismiss his column as an obvious wind-up, a bit of sub-Clarkson trolling that is best ignored. Yet it was the opening article in The Sunday Times’s comment section and, sadly, too many members of the public and the political class believe this rubbish.