Michael Gove is attacked for criticising teenagers reading Witchcraft promoting books
Michael Gove branded a ‘snob’ by new Children’s Laureate for criticising teenagers who read Twilight vampire books
Education Secretary said youngsters should read Jane Eyre not Twilight
New Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said any reading should be praised
Warned minister’s attitude risked driving the best teachers out of the profession
By MATT CHORLEY, MAILONLINE POLITICAL EDITOR
PUBLISHED: 17:12, 4 June 2013 | UPDATED: 20:20, 4 June 2013
Education Secretary Michael Gove was today branded a ‘snob’ for dismissing teenage books like the Twilight vampire series.
New Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman dismissed the idea that young people should only read books written half a century ago.
And she warned Mr Gove risked driving the best teachers out of the profession.
Last month Mr Gove criticised the debasement of English lessons, saying some schools were telling pupils to read ‘transient vampire books’ like the Twilight series instead of ‘transcendent Victorian novels’ such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
But Ms Blackman, today revealed as the eighth Children’s Laureate, rejected the minister’s attitude to popular books.
“I don’t agree with Michael Gove. The point is that they are reading. My strategy is to say to a child ‘if you love vampire stories then have you thought about Frankenstein?,’ she said.
She revealed that as a schoolgirl a teacher took a comic from her because it was not considered good reading material, the Evening Standard reported.
‘The teacher tore it up and said “don’t read that rubbish”. That was my hard-earned pocket money. It was a snobby attitude and I want to change that,’ she added.
Her intervention – on the day her appointment was announced – follows a series of clashes between Mr Gove and the profession which has seen two of the leading teaching unions pass votes of no confidence in the Education Secretary.
Ms Blackman said Mr Gove was in danger of reducing teachers to a ‘delivery mechanism’ to get children through tests rather than teaching them to think for themselves.
She said that pupils were paying the price for the ‘adversarial’ relationship which had developed between the profession and the Department for Education, while teachers were left feeling demoralised and undervalued.
‘I do not know whether he (Mr Gove) trusts teachers or not but the perception is that he does not listen. If we are not careful we are in danger of losing our very best teachers,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.
‘They have got to be more than just a delivery mechanism – some of them feel that’s what they’ve been turned into, as a way of just getting children through tests. What we should be doing is teaching our children to think and not just to regurgitate facts.’
Mr Gove insists he is committed to driving up standards in the classroom, but critics of his more traditionalist approach to education accuse him of creating a climate of bullying, fear and intimidation.
Ms Blackman, the author of the Noughts And Crosses series of books, said the confrontational atmosphere was taking its toll on schools.
‘I do feel that at the moment the head teachers and teachers and the Department for Education have a relationship that is so adversarial and it is the children who are suffering,’ she said.
‘It is very easy for those who are not in schools every day to come up with edicts about ‘we should be doing this and we should be doing that’. Rushing in with initiative after initiative and initiative means that teachers are becoming demoralised, are feeling they are not valued.’