Monday, November 30, 2020
Home News Chris McGovern: Don’t let them kill Cock Robin

Chris McGovern: Don’t let them kill Cock Robin

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Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Blob,
For the good of the mob
I killed Cock Robin.

Who saw him die?
I, said the Blob,
It’s part of my job
I saw him die.

Who caught his blood?
I, said the Blob,
It’s mine to rob
I caught the blood.

Who’ll dig his grave?
I, said the Blob,
Let your heart throb
I’ll dig the grave.
(adapted from a traditional nursery rhyme)

Nursery rhymes are the latest mainstay of childhood to face eradication. Imbued as they are with traditional values, stories and ideas, they are now widely regarded as a threat to our liberated and rebranded post-modern Western word. Accepting notions of boy-girl gender identity, for example, make little sense in a society that is becoming ‘identity free’ and, more generally, without any real sense of ‘oneness’.

‘I imagine most of you could recite The Grand Old Duke of York,’ Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s new boss, told a childcare conference. ‘But we can’t say that is the case for children today.’ The Chief Inspector regards this development as a ‘great shame’. She is right!



Nursery rhymes and their recitation should be part of the very fabric of childhood. Not only are they a key to language development and parent-child interaction, they are a building block that helps society knit together. As Spielman points out: ‘Humpty Dumpty may seem old-fashioned, but children who can sing a song and know a story off by heart aged four are better prepared for school . . . Nursery rhymes provide a collective experience and teach a little bit of social history to boot.’



Beyond handwringing and lamentation, however, there is a need for action. If Spielman is to move beyond the role of passive observer and commentator, she will need backing. Confronted by the educational establishment, the Blob, this is not a battle she can win on her own.

Certainly, she should not look to the education department for support. Supine and pusillanimous, its role has long been that of a collaborator with the Blob. Parliament’s education select committee has presided over failure for years and, is, equally, a lost cause. It has already accused Amanda Spielman of lacking ‘vision and passion’.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that sensible parents will give their support by rising against the mob of the Blob and counteracting at home the anti-nursery rhyme contagion that is infecting our schools and nurseries.

Society has become very sick indeed when it sacrifices centuries of wisdom about childhood to satisfy adult neuroses built on misguided convictions of political correctness.

The Blob seems not to understand that children see the world differently from adults. Isaac Bashevis Singer eloquently expressed this difference in the speech he made in 1978 on his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was giving reasons why he writes for children:

‘Children don’t read to find their identity. They don’t read to free themselves of guilt, to quench their thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology. They detest sociology. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. They love interesting stories, not commentary, guides, or footnotes. When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority. They don’t expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only adults have such childish illusions.’

Who killed the nursery rhyme? Who killed childhood? Who killed Cock Robin?

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Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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