Thursday, 27 May 2010

Updating the curriculum

As much as it surprises me to say it, the new Government seem to be making a good fist of things so far.
The reforms they are declaring seem to be mostly Lib Dem ideas but nothing there at the moment that seems too scary and pretty much all i agree with.
The latest wheeze is a slimmed down curriculum for schools although no decision yet on what subjects will be axed so maybe i can suggest a few.

Metalwork: As much fun as it is to spend a year making a set of nutcrackers, when will this ever be applicable in later life unless you wash up on a nut laden desert island with only a set of precision tools and a lathe?

Shakespeare: The only time Shakespeare comes in handy is when you want to out smart-arse a smart-arse by continuing their Shakespeare quote they only used in the first place to be a smart-arse.

Historic Royals: Unless you are on a quiz show, you will never, ever, ever have to recall who was the reigning monarch in 1477. As long as you recognise the present one so you don't get arrested for passing on fake bank notes, that's all you need to know.

Square Roots: I have never met anyone who has had a moment when they have cursed themselves for having forgotten how to work out the square root of a number.

Religious Education: Be good go to heaven. Be bad and spend eternity being forked up the backside by the devil.Why take a year to say that? The form teacher could slip it in one morning before taking the register.

Periodic Table: The amount of times i have had cause to regret not knowing the chemical symbol for Nobelium or Ununpentium? Nil.

If you are still at school and you find your nutcrackers are wonky, have no idea who King Edward I married or are panicking over what the chemical symbol for Potassium is, don't worry. You won't ever need to know them anyway.

9 comments:

Cheezy said...

Not sure I agree with all of that.

To take one of your examples, admittedly it’ll probably never be very useful to know the rather bland fact, in isolation, that Edward IV was the English monarch in 1477… But if you have a look at the surrounding context, e.g. that his reign was very important in the rivalry between both the Houses of York and Houses of Lancaster; that he was king during the last days that the Plantagenet family held sway over England (the Tudors were about to take over); that England’s rivalry with France heated up during this time; that law and order became more centralised during this period, as England before more ‘unified’; that his youngest brother Richard III killed Edwards sons in the Tower, an event which has inspired great art (Shakespeare’s play, Delaroche’s painting etc.); that, actually, there’s a great deal of controversy about whether Richard did, in fact, do the evil deed at all (i.e. was this an early example of political propaganda? – with resonances/parallels today??)... then you start to see how these ‘mere’ facts, while not important in themselves, contribute to general knowledge about who we are and where we came from which surely gives a person perspective about politics, society, sociology, even the arts and philosophy, which I think is pretty damn important.

I think you could make the same argument about your other examples. They’re all the ‘thin end of the wedge’. At the thick end lies education.

But I agree with you that nobody should be forced to learn Shakespeare. It’s imposing the bard upon young reluctant minds that gives him a bad name.

Hanz said...

Maybe 1477 wasn't the best example but point taken. I just remember studying these at school and thinking 'when will i ever use this'.
I stand by the Square roots one though and my nutcrackers are at my parents somewhere and have never even seen a nut.

Anonymous said...

Hanz,

those are wasted topics. consider these... how much time is wasted:
1. teaching football?
2. teaching how to play musical instruments?
3. teaching government... america's politicians don't even the constitution, the bill of rights, or the declaration of indpendence (i think yawl call it the declaration of insubordination)
4. teaching journalism - oops, that works, over here they actually think they are neutral... hmmm, is that teaching or brainwashing?

Now, if they taught:
1. fishing - sweet
2. how to cook salmon & trout - sweet
3. how to make your own fishing lures/flys - sweet

... that would be worthwhile stuff because if you teach a man how to fish, he can feed himself...

q

Hanz said...

The kids would have their own eyes out if they were let loose with fishing hooks. They would have to start them off with those magnetic ones we played with as kids.

Cody Bones said...

Sorry Hanz, but I use square roots for different performance models at work. Looks like i'm the first

Cheezy said...

'Teach a man to fish'... and he'll eventually go out of business because BP spills oil all over his shrimps :(

In my post I didn't mean to imply that 1477 was a particularly important year. As far as I'm aware, it wasn't. I really mean that you can read about any period in history, and through studies of linkages and cause & effect, find out more about who we are as people, and why things are the way they are.

Learning about African history of the last few hundred years has been commended to black people in order that they may learn more about their own culture and where their blood comes from, and I think this is a good thing for people of all ethnicities to think about - what divides us and what unites us.

Even your nutcracker example, I think could be useful!... Don't you think making a nutcracker at a young age ever inspired someone to get into engineering, and that person has gone on to contribute usefully to society? Without that seemingly humble 'nutcracker experience', he might have gone on to be a parking warden or sell real estate or something...

So I'm wary of the Tories on this one. Their mooted rise in capital gains tax is also dodgy. The scrapping of the ID cards is a bloody good idea though! More like that, please.

Hanz said...

I reluctantly withdraw metalwork, square roots and historic royals but i'm not hearing any support for Shakespeare, Religious Education or Periodic tables so that's not bad for such an ill-thought out post.

Anonymous said...

i dont want "religion" in school. shakewho? and i dont want to know about periods... its a female problem and should kept that way...

q

Hanz said...

The female period is a wonderful time. It's when we get to buy new crockery because the last lot got thrown at us.