Saturday, July 14, 2007

What would be on your curriculum?

I've been rather puzzled by the new suggestions for the national curriculum in schools. Whilst, of course, it's funny to see the Daily Mail get in a lather about Churchill supposedly being consigned to the dustbin of history some of the changes are certainly a little odd.

Take this business of teaching kids how to set up a bank account and take out a mortgage. Now these things can be complicated it's true, but you're unlikely to open an account more than a couple of times in your life and it's the kind of thing you can learn as you do it, and as for mortgages if we take a look back at the endowment mortgage scandal, for example, the idea that teachers will be in a position to give out decent financial advise that will stand kids in good stead through out their lives just seems, well, unlikely.

The fact is that the best time to think about these issues is when they mean something tangible to you and you have the latest, current information to hand - not what you learned sixteen years ago. It would be helpful if the government provided unbiased information on these topics *for adults* but considering the fiasco of the Home Inofrmation Packs we can but dream. Personally I think there are practical skills that kids should be learning in schools, but these aren't them.

I'd like to see kids learning lifting and handling techniques and first aid. I'd like to see kids learn how to think critically about the news, understand the role and responsibilities of the various tiers of government, and to discuss the various ways we can engage in and promote democracy. What about how to join and build a union or coping with mental health problems? What about bicycle maintenance or making polyamory work?

I'm not surprised that a pro-business government thinks mortgages are suitable additions to the school timetable, particularly when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is chaired by Sir Anthony Greener who was the deputy chairman of BT and managing director of Alfred Dunhill (the cigarette company) and the HR director of Tescos, Clare Chapman, is another member.

If nothing else these decisions show what the government thinks are and are not practical and relevant skills. I'd like to suppose that *thinking* is one of those skills, but it seems that's going out of fashion only to be replaced by how to get into debt and live a two up, two down life.

1 comment:

Dorothea said...

"a pro-business government"

Pro-BIG-business more like.

Corporatist New Labour hates small business or indeed anybody who thinks and acts independently.

Their whole schools policy seems calculated to churning out zombies - fine fodder for the brave new world they are engineering.