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.


One Response to Mushy Learning

  1. Margi says:

    When I started school in 1969 it was rather regimented (and friends tell me it was the same in the state system). We were gender segregated, dressed identically and arranged in rows. By age six we could all forge Sister Petra’s signature (expressing individuality in handwriting was a bad thing) and by eight we spoke French like an Irishwoman. By 18 we could drink like an Irishwoman 😉 heaven bless them and talk ourselves into things as if we’d freshly kissed the Blarney Stone but… it has to be said the Sisters (and non-nun teachers) turned out girls who ALL went to university or became teachers or nurses or nuns themselves. Nowadays I hear of girls at my old school committing suicide because someone threatens to post them knickerless on the internet and it makes me feel light-headed and panicky. I am now a fan of regimented. When I was a green little RSCN student and Health Visitor student I was heavily in favour of kids being allowed to be free spirits but now, being middle-aged and curmudgeonly, I think I see that I succeeded in life because I was told to sit still and shut up an awful lot as a child.

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