Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools responded to Philip Davies’ letter of 3 July on 23rd July. It can be seen at 23July15 Min of Ed UK. The Ministry has established Math Hubs. I needn’t go into detail here as the reader can read Gibb’s letter for such details except to say the initiative will not bring about the desired results.
I have included the relevant correspondence from Lizzie Kelly of the “Raising Standards in Mathematics Team” at the ministry and my emails to Sonia Johar assistant to Philip Davies MP for Shipley; I decided to include unedited versions.
30 July 2015 From Lizzie Kelly, Raising Standards in Mathematics Team
Dear Mr. Mollet,
I am following up on a recent letter the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb sent Mr. Philip Davies MP in response to an email you sent him (attached for reference). I work in the Mathematics Team at the DfE and would like to invite you to a meeting to discuss your work in more detail.
I understand from your email correspondence that you are available in August. Would a meeting in the afternoon of 24, 25, 26 August be convenient for you? We are based at: Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT. Alternatively we could have a telephone call.
31st July 2015 to Lizzie Kelly, Raising Standards in Mathematics Team
Dear Lizzie Kelly, Thank you for your email. I am only too willing to contribute in any way I can but as stated in my email to Philip Davies I am here in San Diego. I live in San Diego most of the year where my family including grandchildren are, but spend, depending on what is happening, time in New Zealand and also some time in China (previously Shanghai but people in Taiwan now interested and I’ll probably be spending time there also before the end of the year).
I do not mean to be disrespectful with the following but there is no point in being anything but direct – children have always been too important to me to be anything but that. I have something, probably unique, to offer although I appreciate that the recipient mindset has to be of a certain type to even start accepting my descriptions of what is occurring in children’s minds and how to optimise their wellbeing and learning.
Sadly, I have never found that mindset in the UK or USA. I did find in in New Zealand in the 1980s and was able to make a significant contribution there (I enclose letter of thanks from previous NZ Minister of Education) but it is now following the UK model. From my viewpoint, and this is now being supported by the test scores, the consequences and results of present policy in all three countries will be directly opposite of those intended.
I fully appreciate that once politicians and administrators have invested considerable taxpayers money in a strategy or scheme, it is very difficult for them to change course. Therefore, I do not expect at this time for my work or descriptions to be accepted but what is being implemented now will only have marginal effect on test scores. In other words however much spin is applied, it isn’t the answer!
I read Nick Gibb’s reply to Philip and from my viewpoint very little has changed regarding mindsets in the UK since I first started writing in 1973. I am sure the people, when they very occasionally respond, are very nice people but I believe that history will indicate that the vision and insight that keep a society from decline are lacking and after frustration after frustration for some eight years I resigned my post as a university lecturer and sought pastures new; initially California, later New Zealand before becoming an independent consultant.
I can only repeat that the mindset of Chinese students, teachers and administrators is very, very different from those existing in the UK. If one really wants to improve students’ performance in the UK you need someone who appreciates what is in essence (using Jung’s terminology) the collective unconscious that applies in different scenarios and sadly, and tragically for UK children, I have never found any person with power in the UK with that kind of insight.
I am going to send Philip my various analyses of how the UK’s education and economic performance is declining (the USA’s performance is declining even faster) and that is why I am now concentrating on working in China including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
However, the UK is my homeland and I did receive two great kindnesses when I was teaching there so I still attempt to make some contribution to education in my homeland. I have examples (can be sent as pdfs) in fractions and multiplication tables describing the approach that is needed urgently in the UK but which isn’t occurring So good luck in your work and if you believe I can make a contribution please let me know.
If you read all this I hope you come to the same conclusion as I have done that a phone call is not going to achieve any permanent or significant influence or determinant. But by all means phone me but FYI, if you do (001-619-463-1270 minus 8 hours – your time 2.30 pm would work) my phone only usually accepts calls from callers on my contact list but this may not apply to calls from overseas. Also, I would prefer to be called David but formally I am Dr. or Professor David Mollet not Mr. Thanks.
Sincerely, David (Dr. David Mollet)
2nd August 2015 to Lizzie Kelly, Raising Standards in Mathematics Team
Thank you for your email. I enclose pdfs for Fractions and Multiplication Tables explaining the approach. Please ignore the outdated contact information in the pdfs. As explained earlier I am setting up in Taiwan and possibly Hong Kong and will upgrade information in pdfs when I have appropriate contact information etc. If needed, it I can send you a draft of that is being sent to various people in China indicating possible contribution to their education. I look forward to hearing from you, Sincerely, David
3rd August 2015 to Lizzie Kelly, Raising Standards in Mathematics Team
As you know I sent you pdfs describing our approach to Fractions and Multiplication Tables. I need to add the following as perhaps an explanation is necessary. Some of the information in the Teacher Handbooks needs updating but some also needs changing.
When I first started teaching in very difficult circumstances in the dock area of the east end of London I became interested in the Waldorf approach to education. The approach worked and I took it on myself to disseminate knowledge of the approach to people in the state sector. At that time I was naïve enough to believe (but following Steiner’s statements and wishes) that his followers would want to share, where appropriate, information on the approach with other educators.
I was greatly mistaken and realised eventually that such followers would go to great lengths to stop anyone like myself from disseminating such information. If you go to my present homepage molletacademy.com and click on CV you can read the lengths they will go to stop people from working as I did.
I haven’t been near any of their followers since they tried, unsuccessfully, to get me and family deported from New Zealand in 1985 and indeed view their organisation, from my personal experience, as in many ways showing symptoms of a cult.
My view is described as follows “A link to my CV follows. You will see that in my earlier education career I specialised in the Waldorf approach. However, I need to make it very clear that although I obviously believe that the Waldorf approach has much to offer, my experiences with the Waldorf/Steiner world leaves a great deal to be desired.
I’ll cut to the chase and state that in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1988 I suffered the worst experiences of my life when a few people at the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School spread dreadful rumours about me saying that my qualifications were fraudulent, that I had never been a university lecturer and that I had been deported from the USA. They also attempted to have me and family deported from New Zealand. Their actions were beyond human decency.
We survived and after 18 months of very great stress and worry eventually persuaded the immigration authority in New Zealand that the rumours spread by these people were totally untrue and we were allowed to stay. Eventually we received New Zealand citizenship but needless to say I haven’t been near a Steiner person since nor do I envisage doing so for rest of my time on this planet.
However, as far as pedagogy and education is concerned my approach has always been based on what works as far as optimising childrens’ wellbeing and learning is concerned. If the Waldorf approach has something to offer in this regard, and I believe it does, then I have to go beyond what I have personally suffered at the hands of Steiner people and utilise whatever works.
So you will see many references in my CV to my then specialism of Waldorf but I have now moved on and will utilise anything that helps aforesaid optimisation of childrens’ wellbeing and learning – thanks.”
Understandably, I haven’t had any contact with anyone in the Steiner world since 1985 and was advised here in the USA to establish a programme under my name – hence “Mollet Learning Academy” although as I believe in transparency; acknowledge the influence the Waldorf approach had on my writings.
I should also mention that I have written the outline of a curricula based on research of what should occur in the classroom if childrens’ wellbeing and learning is to be optimised so what you are viewing are samples in one particular subject area.
Indeed my main objective is to attempt to see a school or school district, and eventually even state or country to adopt the programme (although I do not believe the latter will be in my lifetime) and that is why I am now beginning advocacy in Taiwan, Hong Kong and hopefully eventually China.
I would add that once I reach the teachers I have had very positive feedback – it is reaching them that has been the problem 🙂 Thanks David
5th August 2015 to Sonia Johar assistant to Philip Davies MP for Shipley
Hi Sonia (email@example.com),
Apologies for writing in the following somewhat negative manner but, sadly, there is no alternative; also no point in sending such letters to anyone at the ministry. I await their response but I am not hopeful! I’ll write once more in ten years’ time to whoever is MP for Shipley! Thank you for your time.
So just to finish my latest attempts in the UK I add the following. I attempt to view developments in an historical perspective. In such an historical perspective, the many enterprises initiated as the British Empire spread across the globe was nearly always positive. Of course, at that time there were people of great stature in the UK. For example, Gladstone’s, vision and insight not to mention integrity gave the necessary leadership to build an empire and besides the stain of say the Opium Wars, Britain, quite rightly achieved greatness because of its policies.
I believe this changed during and after the First World War. The Balfour Declaration was a mistake of great magnitude and the rot had its first hold so to speak. The mindsets changed and, for example, at the Treaty of Versailles, another dreadful decision was made. Keynes was a member of the British delegation. He knew very well that what the winning powers were proposing was, from a practical viewpoint, unworkable.
The consequences of such policies would only cause enormous distress and disaster in Germany. Of course, Keynes was right. Hitler eventually came to power (by one vote!) and the Second World War inevitably followed. Keynes was a man of integrity and duly resigned in 1919; besides his integrity, he didn’t want to be part of the disasters that would follow!
Attempting to bring the scenario in a modern setting, I believe that from an historical viewpoint, the final determinant of UK’s decline will be, albeit slowly, the destruction of the UK’s education system through its politicisation and therefore centralisation (somewhat ironic that a communist country, China, decentralised its system!). There are specific reasons why politicians in the western world believe that teachers should be disempowered etc. but that is left for another time.
Obviously, it gives me no satisfaction to say all this. As I said earlier in a previous email I now only write once every ten years. From my viewpoint my limited time and effort is more constructively spent in countries that appreciate that once you have dis-empowered teachers, the decline of a society will eventually decline. The way I have stated this, is an over-simplification and if you want a fuller version, my clips on YouTube will suffice for now.
UK politicians, ever since Thatcher who initiated the process, have continued to politicise the education system. They believe they know better on how to improve the system than those who have spent their life-time in education. The facts, however much administrators at the ministry deny those facts, indicate the rapid rate of decline of UK test scores. I can only emphasise, as I have been doing since the mid-1970s, that the policies implemented will have exactly the opposite of what is intended.
As you know I left the UK some thirty-five years ago and if I am going to be a frustrated educationalist it may as well be where the sun shines (California) where a new country is emerging (New Zealand) and now perhaps where successful policies that will optimise childrens’ wellbeing and learning are being implemented (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai) – another busy year ahead!
I do not, for one moment, pretend to get everything right but I believe my analyses and descriptions are accurate and I still attempt to find a UK politician with the vision and insight to appreciate what is occurring in my homeland.
All I can do is to describe my attempts in articles, postings and books and try once more, assuming this latest effort will be just as unsuccessful as previous ones, to examine evidence that clearly indicate the determinants for the UK’s rapid decline.
In that context I should add that when I did receive a response form the Ministry (twice in twenty-five years!) it indicated the lengths politicians and administrators would go to refuse to even examine , never mind accept, the available data and evidence.
Unfortunately, the mindset doesn’t change and Nick Gibb’s letter to Philip Davies was written with the same type of mindset, namely a huge amount of spin from administrators describing initiatives that once more will not bring about the desired results!
David (Dr. David Mollet)