Mushy Learning

Last week when the Year 10s were on work experience week, we went off timetable with Key Stage 3 kids (that the age equivalent of middle school in the States) and had Environment Week. As a change of pace, it was fun. Even though the party line was the assumption of anthropogenic global warming, I didn’t kick up a fuss and went along with the flow.

Theme-based learning was popular in primary schools until the 1990s. That’s when they found it that while it was entertaining, kids ending up lacking something rather essential: basic skills like reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  I bet they could make great posters, though.

Now the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the arm of the Government that tells us what and how we must teach, is pressuring schools to ditch the usual timetable of lessons and switch to theme-based learning. I suppose they’ve given up on basic skills at this point. Indoctrination is much too important to be left to chance.

The curriculum director of the QCA said, “The challenge for schools is to create a nourishing and appetising feast that will sustain learners and meet their needs.” Since you may not speak edu-speak gibberish, let me translate for you. What he said is that schools need to cater to, and rely upon the wisdom of, junk-food-addled iPod-entertained children to determine what they would like to do while they are in school. We must learn to conform to their demands.

In the view of the QCA, the one thing we must never do is tell children to sit down, shut up, and pay attention to what they must learn because we tell them it is what they need to know. If we were to do that, using such antiquated techniques, we might end up with adults who know something and have something to contribute to society.