timely quote

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, March 27, 2009

So much for education in jolly old England

From the Guardian:

Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.

The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow schools greater flexibility in what they teach.

...
The plans have been drawn up by Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted chief who was appointed by ministers to overhaul the primary school curriculum, and are due to be published next month.

Well, I guess the liberals in England have really gotten their way. Take away the important parts of history and add in pop culture. No more real science, just science fiction.

The proposals would require:

• Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

• Children to be able to place historical events within a chronology. "By the end of the primary phase, children should have gained an overview which enables them to place the periods, events and changes they have studied within a chronological framework, and to understand some of the links between them." Every child would learn two key periods of British history but it would be up to the school to decide which ones. Schools would still be able to opt to teach Victorian history or the second world war, but they would not be required to. The move is designed to prevent duplication with the secondary curriculum, which covers the second world war extensively.

• Less emphasis on the use of calculators than in the current curriculum.

• An understanding of physical development, health and wellbeing programme, which would address what Rose calls "deep societal concerns" about children's health, diet and physical activity, as well as their relationships with family and friends. They will be taught about peer pressure, how to deal with bullying and how to negotiate in their relationships.

The six core areas are: understanding English, communication and languages, mathematical understanding, scientific and technological understanding, human, social and environmental understanding, understanding physical health and wellbeing, and understanding arts and design.

Ummm. Yeah.
John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "It seems to jump on the latest trends such as Wikipedia and Twitter. Then it has very traditional descriptions of chronological teaching of history. It seems to be about trends on the one hand, then political pressure on the other hand - the government didn't want to look like it is scrapping traditional education. Computer skills and keyboard skills seem to be as important as handwriting in this. Traditional books and written texts are downplayed in response to web-based learning."
I have no problem with web based learning. I take web based continuing education courses myself. Kids of this generation (including mine) grow up with computers in the house. more than one. I don't know any of my kids' friends that don't have their own personal computer. Having kids use a computer instead of a book is fine, as long as you're teaching some of the important things, like history. Maybe even science. but Twitter?

And this was done without the Teachers' Union.
The leak led to a row when it emerged unions had been excluded from the consultation about what should be included, and subject specialists were given only three days to respond. Bousted said: "It's entirely unacceptable that it hasn't come to the teaching unions. Our members have to teach this. We've responded at all other stages of consultation. I don't know why we have been missed out now."
I'd think that the union would be happier about all this. Just give the kids unrestricted internet access for 8 hours a day and go get a spot of tea.

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