The report is, I’m glad to say, critical of Michael Gove, the former education secretary. He irritated an awful lot of people during his tenure. It condemns in particular his instruction to schools to dispense with what he terms ‘peripheral’ issues in favour of academic attainment. These constituted anything relating to the moral, social or cultural development of a child. Layard, is not impressed with such a position and he questions the notion that academic success should occupy the undisputed top spot in educational policy. Nicky Morgan, the incumbent education secretary is in agreement with Layard and has pledged to undo some of the damage inflicted by Gove’s ignorance. Why the government imagined that a man without any relevant experience would make a good educations secretary is beyond me.And this makes logical sense to hopefully most people. But, is it as easy as that? Early emotional safety and loving stability is crucial clearly but it’s important to keep in mind real life for far too many poses difficulties.
The guardian reports for example, that by the end of 2014, 61,970 homeless households were in temporary lodging, from B&Bs to homes rented from private landlords, of which 46,700 were families with children. Maybe, they’re fine, but I imagine being dragged from one place to another is not conducive to stability or happiness. If we think about parental lifestyles we can see how things can get complicated. If one’s parents aren’t in a secure relationship, perhaps in debt and maybe working in a competitive work place that values education then does the water get murky? Your childhood is to some extent reliant on the satisfaction of parents and this is just one link in a chain that goes back generations. Where does Layard suggest that happiness resides and more importantly how does he suggest it will sustain itself? What is the precipitating cause? What is the generation engine?