Sunday, 26 April 2009

What's in a Name?

It’s Tory Spring Conference time down in sleepy Cheltenham. The Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove, has come up with a cunning plan, he wants to create primary academies.

I think that what he means is, he wants primary schools to become autonomous by taken them away from council control and letting them set their own curriculum and hours of attendance.

It’s not for me to say whether this is a good or a bad thing, what I’m objecting to is the way politicians are hijacking the language to suit their own means. If there is an obscure meaning to a word settled right at the bottom of an entry in the OED you can bet your life that they will use it for their own ends.

I mean, academy, that’s never a primary school. An academy is a seat of higher learning, a place where they read Plato and Socrates, not 'Jane and John' first reader books! Academia is a university or a group of students from a university, not a collection of Portakabins on a council estate. An academic is a researcher or even a professor at a university, not Miss Smith who teaches finger painting.

A failing secondary school in my area was re-branded an academy a couple of years ago. It’s still a failing secondary school!

A newly built secondary school in my area is called So and So Campus (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). Campus sounds as cool as academy, but did the person who christened it know that a campus is the word for the grounds and buildings of a university, and not a level of education?

So get wise all of you politicians, Shakespeare’s Juliet was lying when she said, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

1 comment:

  1. It seems like when it comes to education, politicians always want to change the language not the situation- or make the tests easier so the scores will be higher- or force school administrators to give dishonest grades by threatening their jobs-
    anything but addressing the problem.
    At least that's how it's been in the States...