Thursday, 12 September 2013

Too much, too soon?

That's the title of a report, published today, by the Save Childhood Movement. Calling for greater emphasis on play in the early years of education, the authors claim the UK would do better to follow successful Scandinavian models of education and start formal schooling at the age of six or seven.

As a parent with a child just a year into his formal schooling, and another having just this autumn started pre-school, I'm very interested in this. I'm sure the head teacher at my son's school is, too. Because reception learning was nothing if not a very skilful blend of play and learning in a lightly structured (but purposeful) environment.

What is astonishing about this report isn't the recommendations (they're pretty much agreed among experts) or the knee-jerk response of the government (negative, needless to say). What is surprising is the tone of the response from the Education Department. Although claiming to have been written by one of Mr Gove's 'spokesmen' I wonder if the language reveals the authentic voice of Mr Gove himself? It's certainly worth quoting at length. Of the report's authors it states...

"These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools.

And on the subject of what Britain's schools need, the statement claims that...

"We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer - a system freed from the grip of those who bleat bogus pop-psychology about 'self image', which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up." 

No one can deny that we still haven't got education 'right' in this country. There has been a culture of low expectation in state schools and our children come woefully low-down international league tables. But the fact is (fact, Mr Gove - you like those) that over ninety percent of what we now know about the brain and how children learn has only been discovered in the last twenty years. That's a frighteningly short length of time; clearly too short for many to fully understand and implement the findings.

Some countries manage, though. Others have by happy chance already utilised techniques that are in accord with the latest research. And among those are countries with some of the most successful education systems in the world; countries with consistently high scores for childhood happiness and well-being. Scandinavian countries. Finland, in particular.

And that's a fact Mr Gove.

Go to the bottom of the class.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...