Saturday, 26 November 2011

Oh, for Gods' Sake

There are many reasons not to like Michael Gove. But aside from his elitism, parochialism, incompetence, viciousness, fundamental opposition to the concept of public service, his general meanness of spirit and possession of less charm than Arnold J Rimmer, his stupidity is what is currently annoying me.

This isn't actually related to the strikes - that's a whole other seething cauldron of outrage. This is his move to put a copy of the KJV in every school in the land - with a foreword of his own.

OK, it's only 2 lines, so it's not worth getting too worked up about. But he's not a Biblical scholar. He can't have anything to add to the text other than his own opinion on it - and who the fuck cares what he thinks about the Bible? It's only a few months since he tried to remove the statutory requirement to teach RE from the national curriculum, and has completely opposed including RE in the EBacc. And judging from his behaviour, he clearly isn't much of a Christian either, so sending round copies of his no doubt awe-inspiring thoughts on the KJV just smacks of arrogance.

What really annoys me about this is not the redundancy of spending money at a time when he's cutting everything else on a book that all schools have plenty of anyway (as the National Secular Society have pointed out).

There are 2 major annoyances that outrank this:

  1. He doesn't seem to be in a rush to send out copies of other major religious texts. The excuse for this surfeit of self-promotion is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the KJV. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the first simultaneous English-Arabic translation of the Qur'an. I don't remember a free copy turning up at school.

  2. The KJV is not a good translation. Most of the NT is based on a single, late, Greek edition and from an educational point of view the NRSV is much better, being a modern English edition based on decades of study by scholars piecing together a representative text based on the widest possible selection of the most accurate available texts. Personally, I wouldn't use the KJV in teaching.

In short, another day, another reason plethora of reasons to dislike the secretary of state for education.

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