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August 2009 Archives

August 14, 2009

Keir, Shereen and a Curriculum for Excellence

I had a lovely email out of the blue from Alistair Mooney, an Assistant Producer who contributes to the BBC Scotland Learning blog. He had picked up Keir's interview with Shereen about CfE and linked to it here. After it was recorded back in mid-July, we had forgotten all about it, and it was news to us that it had been transmitted. Be warned: it runs for 11 minutes, so is not for the faint-hearted, but it also includes discussion afterwards from Sarah Oates (Glasgow Uni), Paul McNamee (The Big Issue in Scotland), and Bill Leckie (The Sun).

Keir made a significant point strongly:

If you put your faith in teachers, they will deliver a great deal, but if you want change, the plan has to be one that genuinely inspires them.

Although once an educator by profession, nowadays I am an occasional observer at Tapestry Partnership events. Their most obvious feature might appear to be the galaxy of visiting speakers, including Howard Gardner, Robert Winston and Jerome Bruner. In fact, the most impressive aspect is around the coffee breaks, where there's a real buzz among teachers fired up by new ideas, genuinely inspired to go back to their classrooms and make changes.

What support do they need to help make this happen? Not more piles of bumf with experiences and outcomes. Not more prescription and guidance, but less. Not more tick-lists or other attempts to micro-manage classrooms. Stop checking up on them and their pupils.

In the 1970s when I taught at Jordanhill College and Concordia University, we promoted active learning methods such as simulation and gaming – not by talking or writing about them, but by putting teachers through the very same experiences as we wanted for the pupils. The levels of activity, excitement and laughter were unprecedented. Afterwards, the teachers went away not to write essays or with piles of handouts, but to create and adapt simulation games that they used in their classrooms. Experiential learning works.

Depressingly, Fiona Hyslop's exhortation piece on CfE in today's Times Educational Supplement Scotland claims that Building the Curriculum 3 "provides the clarity that teachers have been seeking". Complacently, she claims that "we have the chance to set standards that will inspire our neighbours and those around the globe". The rhetoric of her "new way of teaching and learning which thrives on freedom, flexiblity and creativity" sounds fine, but what the CfE implementation lacks is reality. After nearly five years, that isn't good enough.

About August 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Jacquetta in August 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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