This is the final short extract from School Myths: And the Evidence That Blows Them Apart.
Distortion of the past is a vital part of the new traditionalists’ political arsenal. In his February 2013 Social Market Foundation speech Michael Gove asserted that ‘since 1967 and the publication of the Plowden Report - the new educational orthodoxy was progressive ... Didactic became a pejorative term.’ Not so, argues Professor Robin Alexander, curriculum expert and chair of the Cambridge Primary Review. ‘Although [Plowden] argued for children to be helped to cross subject boundaries in pursuit of knowledge and understanding, Plowden actually favoured a measured progression from a relatively open curriculum in the early years to a subject-differentiated one by age 12 – hardly revolutionary – and its discussion of curriculum was in other respects pretty conventional, using all the familiar subject names.’
Another claim made by Gove is that, under Plowden, ‘The role - and authority - of the teacher … was undermined … The teacher was demoted from being “the sage on the stage” to a “guide by the side”.’ Again, Alexander offers a factually based rebuttal: ‘Plowden was ... ridiculed by the demonisers for saying that all teaching, even in large classes where this was clearly impossible, should be individualised. In fact, while Plowden “welcomed the trend towards individual learning” it actually recommended “a combination of individual, group and class work”’.
…belief in a common curriculum was one of the original aims of the comprehensive reform movement, and it is simply inaccurate to argue that these same reformers were anti-knowledge. However, many in that early reform movement did believe that education was about more than didactic (and dull) methods of classroom teaching and that the motivation and experience of the learner was an important factor in educational success. This could be called ‘child-centred’; it could also be called plain common sense.
Previous short extracts and quick links are here:
: ‘Comprehensive education has failed’.
: ‘‘Choice, competition and markets are the route to educational success’.
: ‘Teachers don’t need qualifications’.
: ‘Private schools have the magic DNA’.
School Myths: And the Evidence that Blows Them Apart
is available for Kindle from Amazon at £3.
Debra Kidd describes in her latest blog
how role-play and drama-related activities, sometimes dismissed as 'progressive', can enhance children's learning.