Friday, January 21, 2011

In which I wish government was more like taking on a new garden

I don’t ‘do’ politics normally – that’s SomeBeans’ bag. However, after a Minister visiting work yesterday, changes in HE funding, getting rid of EMAs and proposed changes in the running of the NHS (amongst many others), I was struck by the number and speed of changes taking place. SomeBeans suggests that less seemed to happen at the beginning of the Blair government in 1997 due to the in-fighting between Blair and Brown, rather than them taking a more considered approach to changes.

I understand why they do it –  I know that some changes must be made for economic reasons. But the big reason is that Ministers want to make a mark. No-one will take any notice of them if things just carry on. So they have their pet projects to implement as soon as possible. Some more bonkers than others – I won’t start a political rant. They want to be remembered.

I just wish that Ministers would take a little bit of notice of what a gardener should do when taking on a new garden. Live with it for a year – learn what it’s like from the inside. See what grows where, and what struggles. See where the sun shines brightest, and where there is gloom. See where a gentle hand can renovate, rather than where a pick axe and shovel can destroy. If changes need to be made, you’ll have lived with the garden and will see how to make those changes with the minimum of disruption. And the garden will respond all the better for your greater understanding of it.

As you can tell, I don’t really have the mind for politics.


Helen/patientgardener said...

well said - the changes to HE funding are a nightmare. There is little information and yet we need to have information in place for when 2012/13 applicants start looking in March/April. Complete nightmare all round

Victoria Summerley said...

What I don't understand (rant alert here!) is how they can afford to pay the university top brass so much money when at the same time the universities are having to cut back on staff and put up fees?

Nutty Gnome said...

What I don't get is why Gove is trying to take Secondary Education back 30 years to a purely academic curriculum where students are forced to take a narrow range of specified subjects rather than a wider range of core, arts based and vocational subjects. Some/many non-academic students will inevitably end up feeling disengaged, worthless and 'thick' and all the hard work of the past few years about promoting personalised learning will be undone ......and all because some 'smart' git from Eton and Cambridge wants to make HIS mark. It is SO wrong.........rant over!

NewShoot said...

It sounds like you have the perfect mind for running the country - I just wish there were more like you in politics!

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I hate the shor termism. The HE changes are deeply depressing, as is the planned sell-off of our national forests. Plato said that the best people to govern were the people who least wanted to. Sadly we don't have that system, or politicians with a gardener's approach to taking on something new.

HappyMouffetard said...

PG - a nightmare, absolutely.

Victoria - quite.

NG - you put it much better than I could. Our students, who learn much better when doing things in a hands-on approach, making the technical stuff easier to swallow, will become 2nd class citizens in education again. Yet, it is the students who come from the vocational route who do so well on their work experience year and go on to get very good jobs. But now, they'll be put off this route.

New shoot - you wouldn't want me running the country. *I* wouldn't want me running the country!

Plantaliscious - sad and scary, isn't it?

Esther Montgomery said...

I'd like to agree, but don't.

The people who are now in government have been planning this for a long time. They know what kind of society they want and are racing to create it as fast as they can because much of their 'creation' involves destruction. They know people will rebel (it is already happening)so they have to uproot the institutions most of us care about before enough people wake up to what they are doing to stop them.

The ground work for this was laid by the previous government - for all that it was a Labour one. That's why I couldn't vote Labour. I voted for the Liberal Democrats - and look where that got us!

And as for Eton . . . There clearly is a problem that so many in the Cabinet come from the same school. However, one of the reasons is that they have been prepared for this role right from their early years. They have been working on a coherent political philosophy at least since they were fourteen, They haven't just walked into unknown territory - their parents are likely to have strong political opinions too and will have helped them.

Rather than bash Eton and Westminster . . . perhaps the state system needs to learn from them. People pay huge sums to send their children to such schools but not all the good things offered there cost money.

If we compare the government to a gang of gardeners - what's dangerous is that they are consciously pulling out all the beautiful plants along with the weeds. Some of these plants and bushes and trees have taken decades (generations!) to grow. They are being chopped down and uprooted. They cannot easily be transplanted or replanted or replaced.

In education - Michael Gove did not go to public school. I don't know what happened to him in his growing up which led him to grasp the wrong end of so many sticks. For garden comparisons - de doesn't understand the beauty of variety. He doesn't understand plants need different kinds of soil in order to flourish. He's trying to stake daisies.