The Secret Curriculum

The Secret Curriculum

We are all commodities. All of us. Our value is dictated by someone we have never met,
and by people we do not know. We are all faceless, anonymous tools, to be used at will by
avaricious, solipsistic politicians in their quest to write their names in the history books.
From a young age, we are trained to serve the interests of a few in a capitalist world that
suppresses knowledge and erodes the vitality from the marrow of our existence. We are
puppets, each assigned a ventriloquist that dictates what we say and question. We are all
manufactured and moulded, en masse, in primary and secondary education, by a carefully
manipulated curriculum. Only towards the end of our educational journeys do we realise how
disempowered we all are.

Throughout the tempestuous existence of the ConDem government, Michael Gove has
meticulously orchestrated calamity after calamity, in a style only a Conservative cabinet
minister could demonstrate. Remarkably, he has emerged relatively unscathed from the
wreckage of personally signed bibles, broken placards and charred teacher’s corpses, to be
cited by some as a realistic candidate for future Conservative leader. However, he was met
with a deluge of vitriol from various groups over plans to abolish GCSEs and replace them
with the now discredited EBC qualification. Though his quixotic plans disintegrated, Gove’s
proposed reforms to the current curriculum display a determination to preserve the sanctity of
ignorance that mainstream society so willingly embraces, and a devastating anaesthetic of all-
pervading anti-knowledge that neuters critical thinking.

Ingrained within our education system exists several festering cavities that Gove has no plans
to address. Last year, Benjamin Zephaniah rightly branded the History curriculum diluted,
arguing black and Asian children only got told “half the story”. His criticism is absolutely
justified. From Ireland to Kenya, Britain has excelled in the annihilation, subjugation and
demonisation of indigenous populations, though their excursions abroad remain curiously
absent from the body of topics covered in most GCSE and A-level classes. Any knowledge
acquired on this island’s triumphant colonial past would more than likely have come through
independent research or parents. The study of European empires and colonial history is
almost universally marginalised because governments hate an intellectually empowered
and knowledgeable electorate. Out of fear and embarrassment, the most shameful incidents
of this country’s past are omitted and events are re-told with a distinctly Western bias. The
institutionalised curriculum means key figures from contemporary history like Pol Pot and
Henry Kissinger are wilfully side-lined. Significant events like the creation of the Israeli
state in 1948 and the Armenian holocaust of 1915-16 have been predominantly glossed over
in favour of the continued reinforcement of “Nazis=bad”. Gove claimed he wanted to give
“children the opportunity to hear our island story”. It is highly doubtful as to whether Gove’s
idea of a well-rounded curriculum will deliver justice not only to those whose family history
is inextricably linked to this island’s colonial past, but all children, regardless of background,
who deserve truth and intellectual nourishment.

Gove has also championed the importance of learning a foreign language and committed
to keeping up farcical citizenship classes at key stages 3 and 4. His plans to make learning
a language from the age of seven compulsory will prepare children from an early stage
in mastering the art of saying “I’m overdrawn and they want to take my thumbs” in five
different languages. If Mr.Gove had bothered to ask any children at all what they thought
of citizenship, then he would realise a radical overhaul was required, rather than blithe
continuation. This token doss class would be improved considerably if students were able
debate about issues they care about and learn about matters important in later life like
mortgages and loans, rather than receiving patronising sex.ed demos. An introduction of
Politics as a core module at GCSE, though unlikely, would also be welcomed.

But for Gove and his cronies, ignorance is certainly bliss.

By Rudi Abdallah

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