This week the UK government announced changes to the school curriculum. A radical shake up to deal with the new knowledge economy? Not quite.
The coverage over at the BBC spins it well, spin being the appropriate term. The launch was at that great institute of learning, Lord’s Cricket ground. Spinning cricket balls and spun PR. How about a little less spin and a bit more substance, Adonis? It is mostly a change in presentation, rather than a change in curriculum. The government press release is here on the website of the Dfe, or whatever they are calling themselves these days (Department for Children, Schools and Families, as of 28th of June ’07). Today, information and knowledge are no longer the keys to success.
In an age where you can find a gigabyte of information with a simple Google search, is it still relevant to teach children the same way we did in the last century? Given the fuss over Winston Churchill being shamefully dropped from history teaching you might think so. However, in the new economy, it is wisdom and understanding that deliver the competitive edge. There is a clear difference between what is currently being taught in schools and what is needed.
If the UK education system hasn’t tested children to death, it has certainly tested them to the point of being the most unhappy children in the developed world. So why don’t the government let schools focus on teaching children thinking and learning skills instead? Perhaps a well educated population would be far too dangerous for the average politician. What does the government have to say? It says this:
The new Secondary Curriculum, unveiled today, will free up around a quarter of the school day to enable teachers to give more help to pupils struggling to master the basics in English and Maths and raise standards higher across the board.
It sounds like something from an emerging country with a struggling education system, rather than one of the world’s largest economies. Don’t get me wrong, this is all a step in the right direction, but we don’t need a step – We need a giant leap.
The original national curriculum was a straight jacket on teaching that caused an exodus of great creative teachers. Does the government think that loosening it up a little, some 20 years later, is really going to move education in the UK to where in needs to be to equip the next generation to enable us to be a driving force in this century?