The letter, published in the Daily Telegraph and the Independent on 19 March, warned that Mr Gove’s plans – which include pupils learning a language from the age of seven and mastering their multiplication times tables by the time they are nine – would put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning.
“The learner is largely ignored. Little account is taken of children’s potential interests and capacities, or that young children need to relate abstract ideas to their experience, lives and activity,” it said.
But addressing a conference for headteachers in London yesterday, Mr Gove said the professors must think it a “tragedy” that he would “like children to learn things”.
“The impression is that it is Govey versus academia,” he said. “But there is good academia and bad academia.”
Mr Gove also antagonised education academics by saying he wanted to move away from universities determining how teacher training was delivered and detailed plans to commit more money to school-led instruction.
We used our twitter account to ask if there was any “bad academia” on your agenda. The response was immediate.
“I planned to work 1-to-1 with students on dissertations, but maybe I’ll just have them take a multiple-choice test,” tweeted Courtney Hopf, a learning developer at Brunel University, while University of Exeter history professor Richard Toye said: “I thought I might listen to some student presentations. How foolish, when I could be telling them what to think!”
Martin Eve, lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, added: “Right, off to do some #badacademia. Or, as it’s occasionally known, critical thinking.”
And Victoria Dawson, a PhD student at De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture suggested that Gove might prefer her to regurgitate “what a middle aged bloke wrote 60 years ago” rather than undertaking some original research.
But as the replies came in, the Gove-supporting Twitter feed @toryeducation threatened to stoke the row further by mocking academics in a series of tweets.
“A GREAT thing about imminent MOOC creative destruction: A LOAD OF RUBBISH ‘SOCIAL SCIENCE’ ACADEMICS WILL BE UNEMPLOYED!” read one message.