This is wonderful: the government has announced a shake-up of the school syllabus for the 14-19 age group, to try and re-engage an uninterested nation of teenagers. The idea is to make what kids study more ‘relevant’ to their lives (you always know there’s going to be trouble when politicians talk about making things ‘relevant’ to the kind of everyday lives they themselves last enjoyed in 1979).
Anyway, I digress.
The Daily Mail brigade has predictably got its knickers in a twist about ‘political correctness gone mad’ and the like (yes, because learning to speak Mandarin in a world in which China is the most economically important emerging nation on the planet, that’s obviously a MADNESS) and, frankly, there are some potential flaws in the plan. There are also new additions that simply read like marijuana-induced lunacy (‘Pupils will have to complete 12 key 'life skills', which include making a 50-mile unaccompanied journey by bus or train’ apparently. Alrighty then…).
However, none of that is in any way surprising. If you accept that education is subject to the dictates of fad and fashion as much as any other aspect of public life, it becomes all too predictable. What I found disturbing, though, was a comment made by Mick Waters, the QCA’s curriculum director, i.e. the man behind the plan.
According to Mick, this review aims to 'move away from an overconcern with content’. A WHAT? An ‘overconcern with content’? Dear God.
You know what? If it’s the learning of actual CONTENT (!??!!) that’s the problem, why the hell are we bothering to send our kids to school at all?