The personal learning network for educators
We have often criticized the National Curriculum and the Government for not allowing the freedom to teach children skills for life, or for allowing teachers to create space for children to direct their own learning in a way which is so successful at Foundation Stage. (By the way, children directing their own learning doesn't mean the children do what they like).
It often fees like no-one is listening. However the Lord Bew is currently examining the requirements for a new curriculum. He wants to hear from practitioners. You can access the review here
If you are at all in doubt about the need to comment, then think back to your own education. We were asked to soak up content to pass a test to get to college to get a job which we usually had for life.
None of this applies any more!
Our kids at school will have on average 14 jobs before they are 35.
A college or university degree is no longer a guarantee of a job as it was in our day.
So what is the point of the test and the rote learning of content?
Unless you have a photographic memory which makes you very unusual and employable anyway then the "learning" or more accurately, memorising of content is useless.
How much of what you "learnt" at school can you remember?
Aren't you glad you knew the order of Roman emperors in Britain since 100BC and how would you have got that job without it!!!!
2024 when our Reception children potentially enter the word of employment, will they need to know which king followed which ? (I'm not putting History down here by the way!). I ask my 9 year old and she looks it up on the net!
I think here is the subtle difference. Instead of learning about the Kings and Queens of England we need to be learning from them. How has their reign impacted on life, society and the future.
The next step in the learning process is then the critical one and the one that most Curriculum reviews forget.
How does what I know affect how I interpret the future? How will I use what I have learnt to make myself more successful, employable and happy?
A final thought for Mr Gove and Lord Bew.
One of my favourite subjects at schools was and still is Geography.
Ask me how long the Amazon is and I have to be honest and say that I don't know. This would see me failing a test nowadays. But truth be told I don't need to know, I can look it up and the net. (3,976 miles and took me 38 seconds on Google!)
What made my learning in Geography successful was that I had two teachers, Roy Adams and latterly Bob Smitten who talked us through scenarios.
They entered the realm of what if.
They didn't tell us just that freeze thaw is one of the most powerful agents on the planet but how it works and then left us to look at applications. This is what makes teaching and learning so wonderful and awe inspiring!
They didn't teach me that if a dam in North America holding thousands of litres of water has a small and seemingly meaningless crack it was a dangerous place to be. I worked that out because I used the knowledge that I had gained to extend my own understanding.
The great thing about this is that I remembered it because I figured it out for myself using what already knew. How many times do your kids in class work things out and then just explode with excitiement at what they have found out? Being told isn't the same.
This is how knowledge and understanding is best acquired.
I really fear for our next generation of teachers and learners if we are given a National Curriculum which isn't any more sophisticated than a set of facts.
We need to act now for the future well being of our children to shape learning the way that we know that it is best acquired.
Believe it or not, the politicians might have lots of ideas but you as the practitioner knows what works. Let's have practitioners leading this review and not the politicians!
Make your voice heard!!!