Showing posts from February, 2013

The New National Curriculum: Citizenship and Starship Troopers

Come on you sons of bitches. You want to live forever?

The strangest thing to survive the NC reboot is Citizenship. Unlovely, often unloved, it is the ugly duckling of the curricular zoo. Most subjects evolved organically via a natural selection, but Citizenship flopped out of the sterile womb of a laboratory in 1988, following the recommendations of the Crick report. It's aims were strikingly different from its timetabled peers: it sought to actively encourage 'that children should develop as successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society'.

As I have frequently observed, citizenship is one of the most overt methods by which a governments attempt to influence not just what children know and the skills they possess, but also what they value. Once again, the solution to complex societal problems (fractured neighbourhoods, dislocation of new communities, separation by class, age and culture) is attempted by a s…

My thoughts on the History Curriculum part 2: This island Earth.


White Rajahs and Dinosaurs: The Draft Proposals for the National Curriculum Part 1- History


The other Dark Meat: Does it matter where ideas come from?

There are claims in the press today and every day that the government doesn’t listen to what the profession is saying, and that reforms have been driven by prejudice and partiality. These ideas have come from the wrong source. But does it matter?

Horse meat puns might have jumped the shark within about 15 minutes, but a real issue remains: where something come from often matters. It matters because provenance is more than just a place in France, it's also an integral part in establishing quality. The fact that budget, microwave ready-meals aren't actually made from hand-massaged Kobe beef should surprise no one, and if it does you then I have some magic beans I’d like to sell you. If you want cheap meat, don't be surprised if you end up with a stew of slurry, lips and assholes.

Provenance too matters in education. Take grade inflation- and I hope by now we can accept as an axiom that grade inflation was a real thing. Either that, or for the last twenty five years, child…

When everyone’s special, no one is: how inclusion went sour.

What do we mean when someone has special needs? And why do we get it so spectacularly wrong?

Interesting article in this week’s TES about SEN provision:
‘Pupils with statements of special educational needs are being routinely segregated from their teachers and classmates, prompting fears that many of the most vulnerable children are receiving a poor education.’ Part of me can't see the controversy. Given that many statemented needs revolve around behaviour, it's not surprising that many SEN pupils spend time outside of the classroom. That isn't an indication of failure itself, but simply a recognition that removing a challenging student to a less crowded space is often the most sensible strategy. It's also not surprising that students with learning difficulties are removed to nurture groups. In fact, in my experience it's not removal that's the problem, but not removing.

Inclusion; that’s the pivot around which this all revolves. When I started teaching in …

Cartoon Character: why we can never teach virtues directly

Charles Atlas, in the old comic-book adverts for body-building, promised to turn omega-males into Heroes of the Beach, if the applicant would only gamble a stamp. Now I see that attention turns- as it often does- not to the physical instruction of children, but to moral development, and the interior space of children's character. A Character and Resilience summit to be held on the 6th of February,will ask the question, 'Can we assist social mobility through the use of teaching children to have better character?':

'We believe Britain needs a 'national conversation' on the role that focusing on character and resilience could play in narrowing the attainment gap.  In February, we are hosting a 'summit' on this subject, which we hope can help stimulate discussion among key practitioners, commentators and opinion formers. Our ultimate aim is to help stimulate new practical solutions or highlight and help the spread of proven exis…