Victory and Failure: Feminism and John Steinbeck

The recent victory in reversing a decision made by the Department of Education to remove feminism as a topic of study [and the wider impact and role of women] from the A level Politics syllabus is a tribute to the public campaign launched by student June Eric-Udorie. Her trenchant arguments were presented initially through a petition and grew by prompting/eliciting the support of Rupa Hug MP as well as Catherine Mayer and Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party. You can read the parliamentary debate about this on the Hansard site here. If you missed it, there is also a nine minute audio clip from the Woman’s Hour programme here where the issue was discussed in December 2015, and you can hear from the second year A level student herself.

What this demonstrated among many positive attributes is genuine democracy working against dictate, the latter an increasing default position of this government. Those who have followed me on this blog will know of my arguments with the DfE regarding Michael Gove’s dictatorial decision to have American authors removed from the GCSE English Literature syllabus, a decision Nicky Morgan, as successor to Gove, took no interest in reconsidering whatsoever. My point now isn’t to rehash that argument: instead, I use Eric-Udoria’s victory to reiterate my disappointment in the teaching profession – English teachers in particular – for not presenting a similarly coherent and vehement argument against Gove’s decision at the time. One could argue that decision will now have a much wider impact on students than the Politics A level decision would have had if it remained. English teachers should have been the most articulate and persuasive body in presenting an unassailable case, but we failed to do so.

Therefore, this brief reference is to serve two purposes: first to congratulate the victorious June Eric-Udorie and those who signed her petition [I did] and those influential people who then supported beyond this; and second, to provide some context to my continued posting here of writing made previously on another blog, some which will focus on John Steinbeck, a major and engaging author that GCSE English Literature students can no longer study.

1 thought on “Victory and Failure: Feminism and John Steinbeck

  1. Yes-this was indeed an impressive victory. I too signed the petition. It is a shame we are not forceful enough in the face of this continued dictatorship from above-I must admit I would like to do more, although life at school has become so very exhausting, I suppose we are just trying to keep our heads above water. It’s a terrible reflection on the current system and I often feel we are letting down our students-albeit inadvertently.


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