The key to Michael Gove's speech on Thursday, and to our opponents' furious response, lies in his use of this joke:
As Dr Johnson once observed of two women arguing from the windows of houses on opposing sides of a street - ‘they will never agree, Boswell, because they are arguing from different premises’.
Follow Michael Rosen's monthly free hit at Michael Gove, and the debate in the comments column - in which I take part as Quaestor - and you will see the chasm running down the middle of education's street.
The Left see the purpose of Michael Gove's reforms to the curriculum, testing and examinations, as ensuring that a high proportion of children fail, are labelled as failures from the earliest possible age, have their confidence battered, and are then fed into docile, low-paid employment. Some contributors add his intention to privatise the education service and hand it to Rupert Murdoch, and some just write four-letter abuse, which The Guardian usually deletes.
Michael Gove's premises are set out in his speech, which addresses the fundamental question of what education is for, beginning with literacy, which remains the foundation of everything else. He quotes the view of John Blake, of Labour Teachers, that Michael Rosen's column is ‘basically an argument that poor kids can’t possibly learn to write properly’.