I think it is safe to say that things have come full circle .. again and now it is not about skills but about facts. The ‘it’ being what children in primary schools should learn.
Mr Gove’s advisers have been reading again and listening to the people that they want to hear and have come up with some surprising ideas (!) … as the BBC reports.
It seems that we are into a definition of ‘cultural literacy’ that has floated across the Atlantic and landed in a, yet to be opened, academy – Pimlico Academy – by a lady who is yet to become a teacher – she does not yet have a teaching qualification. Watch out for Civitas, they have produced a series called ‘Core Knowledge UK Resource Books’ … check out here what your Y2 child should know. Remember back in 2005 they gave us ‘Our Island Story’. I think that they are working with the Pimlico Academy – could be a match made in … !
E. D. Hirsch is the man to read about – here – it is his ideas that are coming through and could influence the new national curriculum. But if all of the schools turn towards academy status how many of them will follow it (the NC) will remain to be seen.
Hirsch asserts that “the principal aim of schooling is to promote literacy as an enabling competence”. General knowledge should be a goal of education because it “makes people competent regardless of race, class or ethnicity while also making people more competent in the tasks of life.” This general knowledge includes knowing facts. Hirsch says that highly skilled intellectual competence only comes after one knows a lot of facts.
We have television programmes based on this idea. From ‘The Weakest Link’ to ‘Eggheads’; from ‘Pointless’ to ‘Mastermind’; from ‘University Challenge’ to the incredible ‘Only Connect’; not to forget ‘Qi’; we have more than a full set of ‘its what you can remember’ models.
I find that I quite like the idea of children knowing things and discover that they like it too … exciting perhaps … new it is not.