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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Education rules bring nothing new to the tables

So the Government want all children to know the times tables, learn some poetry off by heart and to be learning a foreign language by the time they leave primary school.

Now I’m all for children learning things off by heart, rather than knowing how to Google for the answer.

It just makes sense to be able to do some mental arithmetic, it helps when you’re out shopping for food, clothes, working out the best phone charge deals, getting a car or a mortgage – or just buying chips. Learning to spell properly, rather than using txt spk is another worthwhile aim.

Yes, it is lovely to be able to speak a foreign language, or at least know the basics and to be able to quote a few lines of poetry, but we also have to be very careful here. We have to beware returning to learning by rote. In parrot fashion.

By chanting out a times table or a poem or French verb until it sticks or, more likely, becomes mind-numbingly boring. This is the way you make children TURN OFF a particular subject. They learn to hate maths or English because they spent hours chanting out six sixes are 36.

Or: Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

This government stressed it did not want to impose ‘top-down’ reforms, but wanted to help change how we do things from the ‘bottom up’. So far, we’ve had changes to the health service imposed and now education is coming into focus.

Children should be pushed, stretched, challenged – however you want to phrase it – in their education. But they should not be bored or bullied into it.

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