Neo-traddie nu-blob trolls – dontyoujusthatethem?

One of the interesting components of the great education debate is the names that get bandied around. When I criticise aspects of ‘progressive education’, rather than recognising that this is a well-defined movement with its roots in romanticism and its flowering in the 20th century, many assume that it is a neologism created as a term of abuse.

Schools Week’s recent progressive-educator-of-the-week, Gerald Haigh, whilst complaining about a ‘rather vulgar world of offensive tweets and ill-humoured blogs’ suggested that ‘child-centered’ has become a term of abuse and longed for the era of a better sort of ‘trad’ (is that a term of abuse?) before concluding that ‘Yah-boo debate gets us nowhere. Children need teachers, but do not become educated through the learning of facts’. Which is kinda wrong.

Michael Gove bears much responsibility for this paroxysm of name-calling for coining the metaphor ‘the blob’ to describe the educational establishment in the UK. Whatever the merits of this as a metaphor, it is plainly insulting and I have tried to avoid using the term.

But there is a double standard. The same people who complain about a lack of civility and the debasement of discussion are the first to jump to terms of abuse. As far as I am aware, it was Michael Merrick who coined the ludicrous, oxymoronic moniker of ‘NeoTraddie’. When asked to identify an example of a NeoTraddie, he chose the writings on my old blog. The irony, of course, is that he coined such a term in order to shrilly berate the likes of me for being shrill.

And we all remember Guy Claxton having a go at ‘angry trolls’ who ‘not very bright’ because they don’t like thinking or learning, only winning arguments.

In an otherwise aimless editorial for last week’s TES, Ed Dorrell writes of the ‘neo-trad nu-blob’ and claims that they worship a saintly Michael Gove (which is all a bit random given that Gove is now in charge of the legal system). Dorrell does this for a reason, of course. He is judging that it is what the people who read the editorial will like. No doubt many of those who complain about the state of debate, the negativity and unkindness, will cheer this othering without noticing the irony.

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7 Comments on “Neo-traddie nu-blob trolls – dontyoujusthatethem?”

  1. Tunya Audain says:

    The BLOB Is An Excellent Term For This Malady

    Coined in 1987 by William Bennett, US Secretary of Education, the term “blob” aptly describes the growth of ancillary staff in education systems. Sometimes someone goes further and describes this condition with the acronym BLOB — Bloated Learning Organized Bureaucracy.

    Whatever, the blob does not diminish in size, and nervousness about this score is clearly evidenced when recategorization occurs to mask these bureaucrats as “educational” this or that to reduce the administration side in the flow chart.

    All nicely laid out in this article: Administrators Rebut Bennett’s Critique of Burgeoning Bureaucratic ‘Blob’ — http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1987/09/09/07200023.h07.html

    Gove is but a Johnny-come-lately to this term.

  2. Poor Michael Gove! He cops it for everything – somewhat unfairly in this case, as Tanya points out.
    While Tanya is absolutely right about William Bennett being the one to coin the term ‘The Blob’, Robert Holland summed up perfectly the nature of the beast: ‘Many good-hearted individuals make up this huge complex, and some even say sensible things on occasion.’ The problem is that ‘it is an entity that defends its turf with the tenacity of a wolverine, yet is as slippery and hard for reformers to wrestle down as a greased cow in a swamp’. Quoted from the former chief inspector of schools and now deceased Chris Woodhead’s book Class War, 2002, p.3.
    Good post, by the way!

  3. fish64 says:

    I’m always amazed at how many progressives refuse to call themselves progressive (heymisssmith is an honourable exception). In their book, “Educating Ruby”, Claxton and Lucas go out of their way to insist that they are not progressive – yet when you look at their proposals for curriculum reform (project based learning and learning how to learn) that is exactly what they are – even if they are not as extreme as A S Neill of Summerhill. I don’t mind basically describing myself as “trad” – though I wince at the attempt to portray trads as modern day Gradgrinds, as much as progressives wince at the attempt to portray them as woolly romantics.

  4. jfin107 says:

    Doesn’t child-centred education have its roots in the Enlightenment rather than the romantic offshoot? See John Locke.

  5. Where does metacogniton or the teaching of metacogniton fit into prog/trad debate?


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