Is there room for an innovative teacher?
Last updated at 14:08, Monday, 18 June 2012
THIS week we heard Michael Gove suggest that primary schools go back to basics.
We’ve heard that phrase before from a Tory government haven’t we? That opened the floodgates upon John Major, which is probably why Gove danced around the phrase without actually using it. Will it work, is this binding curriculum needed, or is it another wardrobe enhancement for the emperor?
Basic maths is a key building block, a foundation for life beyond education. But primary schools already teach times tables. “Multiplication Facts” they call them now though, so is this where a misconception arises that schools no longer teach them? Yet is the learning by rote of 1x1, 12x12 and everything in between that important? You’ll find a huge number of people will take an extended pause for thought when asked for an answer to 13x13! Why do the traditional times tables “stop” at 12 anyway? It was originally a place to stop as it was handy for measurement, in days when there were 12 inches to the foot. Now though we are moving to decimalisation, something we started 41 years ago and so far no government has completed. So any politician suggesting that we are not focusing on our numbers is a little bit cheeky!
May I then put forward that the 10 times table is far enough for a primary school child to learn and in a decimal world is a suitable foundation? We just need to complete decimalisation. Now there’s a challenge, rather than re-inventing the wheel and telling schools to teach what they are already teaching!
There was also a commitment for primary children to learn a foreign language. I can only applaud this. I’m off to France shortly to stay with a family who speak English. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be going – something that I’m not proud of, but I take some solace in that I’m not in a minority. Some primary schools already manage this objective; those that don’t however may have perfectly valid reasons for why they don’t. The question of which foreign language to teach is one dilemma, but there is an even bigger one lurking around this commitment – who is going to teach these languages? Do we have an abundance of unemployed language teachers waiting to be employed when the scheme is rolled out and the funding... oh, hang on, there’s another problem.
The one thing that really stood out in Mr Gove’s report was that he wanted teachers to be “innovative” – in fact he is actively going to “give them the freedom to innovate”. This excites me. I had some of THE most innovative primary school teachers – like Mr Edwards – teaching a group of us “non-syllabus” binary, aged nine – as he had seen the future and it involved “computers” and this “binary” was how computers worked inside. 1977. Visionary.
My worry is that by being so prescriptive in a curriculum, “must teach this, must teach that”, where is the room for a teacher to innovate?
First published at 13:09, Monday, 18 June 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
'Educated' and 'Tory' - antithesis.
Did anyone see what Gove is actually putting into an Education Bill? Is he proposing anything to be enacted at all? All this talk of teaching basics [as if primary teachers have ever stopped teaching the three Rs!] sounds like soundbites to placate the Tory faithful to me.And, as for "innovative" teachers, if he wants them, why is he being so prescriptive in what they must teach and how? Doesn't prescription preclude innovation? It's just words from a politician .. i.e. meaningless.
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