Why Michael Gove is not fit to lead anything

Reposting because relevant

Primate's Progress

GoveThere are mistakes due to ignorance. There are mistakes due to misunderstanding. And finally, there are mistakes that show ignorance, misunderstanding, complacency, and arrogance.

The news that Michael Gove wants to lead the country sent me back to what I wrote about him almost exactly 3 years ago. He was, of course, talking through his hat, and we all do that from time to time. But he did this while telling the rest of us, in his then capacity of Education Secretary, what to do and how to teach. Now it may not matter that Michael Gove has only a limited grasp of physics (actually, I think it does, when the physics of climate change underlie the most important single challenge facing us), but it matters enormously that a would-be future Prime Minister considers his ignorance a qualification.

Anyway, here is the gist of what I wrote back then

View original post 640 more words

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on November 15, 2018, in Education, Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think you were, and are, being uncommonly charitable about Gove. Even when not in my cups I find it hard to talk about him without the use of strong language. As you say, he “considers his ignorance a qualification” . . . just like the loudmouth in the bar who bellows bigoted cliches at us all while failing to notice he’s forgotten to do up his flies.

    Of course, Gove was influential in selling the pup of Brexit to the country. What a . . .

    But no. As I said, even when not in my cups . . .


  2. Ashley Haworth-roberts

    I think Boris Johnson would be even worse (I didn’t read the full post).


  3. Ashley Haworth-roberts

    On Newsnight (I think) they said Gove has turned down the job of Brexit Secretary. But I don’t think that’s official.


  4. He certainly thinks very highly of himself and like us all he knows he has weak spots in his knowledge. I know the feeling having no higher education and attempting to educate myself. There are two ways we can approach our own weaknesses the first and best is to admit them , the second and often favoured by high flyers is to have a quick research on the missing subject and drop a few intelligent looking pointers.
    When we are confronted by an experienced expert we must listen and take notice but these days we have experts who believe they are experts in every realm of science let alone other subjects.
    I think politics is a tough game your prowess depends on others perception and that will be represented by the figure you cut to the public.
    It is debatable as to whether you need to understand Boyles Law to be an MP it might be more useful to be able to quote Hamlet.
    A remarkably popular politician is Boris Johnson I wonder what his education is like?


    • You don’t need to understand Boyle’s Law to be Education Secretary; but what he showed, precisely, was ignroance of his own ignorance. Telling physics teachers what to teach, while himself getting it not just wrong, but wrong in ways that show total incomprehension both of the science, and of its cultural context


  5. I think you are wrong Mr Gove is well aware of his ignorance he is an intelligent man and the intelligent are far more likely to hide their ignorance than fools. To be a brick layer ignorance is no problem in the public eye , MPs are in the public eye and they are expected to be knowledgeable.
    Regarding teachers I do not believe anyone has the right to tell teachers how to teach but the we all have the right to know if their teaching is effective and what is even more important whether their teaching is necessary.


    • I cannot agree. As I said in the post, Gove told teachers that “What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton’s laws of thermodynamics and Boyle’s law.” So he is indeed telling them how to teach. He is also telling them that Boyle’s Lawis a scientific principle and that Newton discovered the laws of thermodynamics. This shows ignorance about what a scientific principle is, what Newton achieved, and the fact that thermodynamics only emerged a full century after Newton’s death, for reasons deep in the history of ideas.

      Unfortunately, this level of ignorance s not unusual among people regarded as cultured. But it is not the *ignorance* for whcih I blame Gove. It is the combination of ignorance publicly displayed, unawareness of that ignorance, and arrogant presumption in using his ignorance as the basis on which to lecture experts.

      I could go on, but two rounds are enough for this one; let’s leave it there

      Liked by 1 person

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