The Corner

Monty Python, a Reality Show

Earlier in the week, I banged on about education in Britain, and I do some more banging in today’s Impromptus. Their problems are our problems, to a considerable degree. We cousins are related. (Cousins are always related, but you know what I mean.)

The British education secretary, Michael Gove, is doing his very best to revive education in that country. And he is being opposed by all the usual suspects — the “Blob,” as William Bennett called them. The unions, the academics, the educrats. Gove is essentially the Bill Bennett of Britain.

The unions want nothing to do with Gove’s desire to teach the kids “math, history, and all that Neanderthal stuff,” as I say in my column. One official — an acting deputy general secretary — said that schools ought to teach their charges how to walk. Hear him out:

“There’s a lot to learn about how to walk. If you were going out for a Sunday-afternoon stroll, you might walk one way. If you’re trying to catch a train, you might walk in another way, and if you are doing a cliff walk, you might walk in another way. If you are carrying a pack, there’s a technique in that. We need a nation of people who understand their bodies and can use their bodies effectively.”

If this is British education today, I wonder how they can make shepherd’s pie or put up their umbrellas, much less read, write, or add. Anyway, I say in Impromptus that the acting deputy general secretary reminds me of Monty Python — which had a famous skit concerning a “Ministry of Silly Walks.” A reader writes,

“The skit gave the troupe an opportunity for physical comedy, of course. But might they also have been making a subtle criticism of bloated government? Of a government that intrudes into every aspect of human life?” Personally, I don’t think so. I think that’s asking too much, of Monty Python. But it’s a very nice thought!

The skit was done in 1970, Google tells me. Forty-five years later, might something like the Ministry of Silly Walks come to pass? We’ll see if Labour gets in in 2015. That party and the teachers’ unions are joined at the hip. Do you know a party in America like that? Mothers in Washington, D.C., who want educational choice for their children know the answer. Funny it doesn’t seem to hurt Obama and the Democrats. Funny and painful.

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