This article from Debra Myhill, taking a good swipe at the spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) tests for Y6 children next month, has got me thinking recently about the direction of progress and movement we adopt when thinking about schooling. I cannot for a moment imagine that doctors and nurses in the NHS would ignore for a second the latest advances made in important diseases, particularly those coming from neuroscience and immunology. They would be roundly criticised, don’t you think, if they did not seek to make use of them, once all the trials had been done? Why then, do we have a government that tells us that they know how children learn and devise a curriculum to fit that, largely using approaches devised in the first half of the 20th century and before that, in many cases? It seems strange to me that they can accept the advances in neuroscience in medicine yet ignore its implications for learning. It seems stranger still that they flag up a massive ring-fenced national budget to us all and then when spending it do not take notice of large parts of what we know works in helping children learn. Obviously there is a lot of tosh spoken by educationalists when banging on about “brain based learning”, BUT the research has pointed to some important understanding that we can use, and it deserves to be brought to the attention of class teachers. To quote Sir John Jones – “children deserve to have teachers in front of them who understand and use this stuff.”
I am aware that I have been off message for a week or more – fantastic time at Spring Harvest in Minehead, with some beautiful and soul-searching teaching, mainly from the amazing Gerard Kelly. No internet access at the time, so plenty to reflect in later posts.