We are adding more pamphlets. The Failure of Politics and the Pull of Freedom: Reflections on the Work of the Reading Reform Foundation discusses the tactics of a campaign group attempting to return to teaching reading with synthetic phonics. Since they are not politicians, attempting to get politicians to compel teachers to teach reading in a particular way does not work. Attempting to persuade parents to choose to have their children taught in a particular way just might.

As with so many enthusiasts for a particular technique, the starting question was simply: “What should people be compelled/persuaded/allowed to do?”, with no huge distinction being made between compelling, persuading and allowing. If in practice they find themselves arguing that children should be compelled to do the right thing, that’s fine by them.

Now, however, the compulsion sector of the educational economy, the State education system, is letting the good ladies of the RRF down, as it lets most people down, and, almost despite themselves, the RRF are being drawn towards the voluntary sector, the sector where people get truly to choose what they’re going to do.

But what might children choose to do? Play with computers, of course. From the vantage point of 2002:

But now we live in an age of television screens and computers in every room, and even if your particular workplace or family doesn’t quite operate like this yet, it soon will and we all know it. In such a world, the flow of information from the outside world to underlings of all kinds – employees, footsoldiers, children – can no longer be controlled by the bosses, the generals, or the teachers or the parents.

When you use a computer, you learn, because you interact with it. You yourself do things, and thus you learn to do things. Computers, by the sheer logic of the free society, are, like TV, unable to compell attention. They too must seduce it. They to must charm their users into activity.