20 MARCH 1993, Page 26

LETTERS Wets, not commies

Sir: I've just seen your editorial dated 27 February (`Look and Learn') and, at rest in the staffroom between classes, don't know whether to laugh or cry into my cup of tea: such muddled thinking brings despair to an educational conservative like me.

Yes, there is a great deal wrong with the system, but it is naïve to think that there is a great pool of potentially valuable teachers waiting to be employed, deterred only by the spectre of Marxist training courses, and more naïve still to believe that many schools could train them adequately, given the limited resources available to most. And your opinion of these potential teach- ers would seem equivocal at best, given your leader writer's thoughtless resurrec- tion of Shaw's old canard. (The pinko, veg- etarian scribbler is not often cited in Spec- tator leaders.)

I've encountered very, very few Marxist teachers, and to accuse teacher-training colleges of Marxist indoctrination is laugh- ably wide of the mark; they simply pass on the wet liberal, internationalist, egalitarian consensus that pervades the British educa- tional bureaucracy. Subject teachers to saloon-bar slander if you will, but it is a mistake to imply that on one side are the general public and the Government, repre- senting common sense and traditional val- ues, and on the other an army of bolshy, hare-brained teachers intent on sabotaging those values. For it is the Government (Tory, we are led to believe), via the Department of Education, which dissemi- nates internationalist, multi-culturalist pro- paganda on a vast scale; it is the Govern- ment which imposes half-baked, ill-con- ceived, unworkable new syllabus require- ments upon the examination boards clearly the distillation of ex-public-school Cabinet members' collective prejudices; it is the Government which has devised the morale-busting irrelevance of tests for l- and 14-year-olds. This is a government which, your leader writer acknowledges, has enjoyed 14 years in office — time enough in which to change the culture with- in the Department of Education, correct the excesses of the Sixties and Seventies, and install a coherent, consistent, rational system. That it has failed to do so suggests nothing useful coming from teacher-train- ing colleges being 'better supervised by the Department of Education'.

Anthony Harrison 7 Somerset Place, Totnes,