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Curriculum for Environmentalists

James Bartholemew has an interesting post about a trip he made to hear about the new A' Level in French.

I was told that not one of the examining boards for French 'A' level now sets a single piece of French literature. The students will not read a single French book or play. Instead they will go through a textbook which includes one chapter on literature and three on the environment. This is a sick cocktail of philistinism and eco-propaganda.

By coincidence, I was also in school this week to hear about a new curriculum - this time the "Curriculum for Excellence" (CfE), which will be the basis of my children's education. On the morning before the talk, I chanced upon a post by Shuggy, who teaches at secondary level in Glasgow. He was, shall we say, not the best possible advertisement for CfE, describing it as "nebulous cack", so when I rolled up at the local primary I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by the experience.

But it's fair to say that even with Shuggy's imprecations, I was still taken aback by the full fatuousness of the experience and the sheer vacuity of what my children will learn. Educational bureaucrats may think it impressive to emphasize the "journey" on which they are embarking and the "dialogues" in which they are going to engage young people, but to anyone who lives outside this rarified atmosphere, it just sounds like mumbo-jumbo.

A "high-quality, values-based education" sounds interesting - promising even - until one asks "whose values?". What do they mean when they say they want to "prepare children for living in the global community"?  Or when they stress the importance of "developing political sensitivity" (I kid you not)?

To a bureaucrat, the truth, if it must be told, has to be attended by a bodyguard of nebulous cack, but even through the fog of kafkaspeak, this sounded rather ominous. And later, it became rather clearer that, as I had feared, the values they were going to be teaching were not even close to mine. In a slide about "21st century learning", we heard about the concepts around which education is now to be based:

  • Sustainable living education
  • Health-promoting schools
  • International education
  • Global citizenship
  • Enterprise in education

If this wasn't horrifying enough, I spent the coffee break looking at the sample text books helpfully provided for the occasion. The subject matter was pretty much predictable - climate change, more climate change, recycling, fair trade and then more climate change.

Every cloud has a silver lining though. My children have learned from an early age that not everything they hear from people in a position of authority is right. That's an important lesson.

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Reader Comments (8)

It will be interesting to see what happens if the current non-warming (which the Met Office calls a "a single-decade hiatus") continues. Children who would not have been born before 1998 may start to find that their personal experience (unimpressive summers, colder winters) bears increasingly little resemblance to the narrative being fed to them. I imagine that some rather uncomfortable questions might be asked.

"Why is the sky blue, Daddy?" "Where do babies come from?" "Where is the Global Warming?"

Sep 26, 2009 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Hi Bish,

I've just sat through 45 minutes of this edu-babble at a special assembly. The children had to endure it as well.

"Excelling in outcome-based learning achievement targetted strategies". Wank my wallaby. WTF does this mean ?

I just cringed as children trooped onto the stage to get certificates for 'self-managed learning tactical achievements'. Some of these children are 5 years old FFS.

The only good news is that climate-phobia hasn't taken off in the schools here (yet).

Sep 26, 2009 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

"My children have learned from an early age that not everything they hear from people in a position of authority is right. That's an important lesson."

Yep it's one of the biggies, not enough parents are brave enough to teach it.

The self managed learning is a joke!! Basically it means the child is able to force themselves to learn what the teachers tell them too. They justify this crap on the basis the everyone knows we learn best what we would choose to learn (and recent research proves what we already knew), so they teach the kids to pretend that they would choose to learn the stuff they have to teach them. Deeply damaging.

Sep 26, 2009 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth


I do wonder if it will lead to trouble in the classroom. That's one of the reasons I think this kind of thing should be kept out of schools.

Sep 27, 2009 at 8:40 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I've taught our four children from an early age to question and distrust authority. It has meant that they sometimes question dad's ideas but I think that is great (although they're obviously wrong in this regard). I'm just happy that the have a very jaundiced view of politicians and others in authority. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, I can do so believing that in my own little compass my work here is done.

Sep 27, 2009 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Interesting article here:

Sep 28, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSheila

Scope "creep" doesn't sound quite right - more of a scope long jump...

A paper presented to the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board providing a broad outline of the main issues, tasks and implications for the current programme strands of Curriculum for Excellence of extending the reference point to all learners as opposed to the current scope of 3-18.

Sep 28, 2009 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSheila


Thanks for that. Someone had told me that the Herald had an interesting article on CfE.

Oct 2, 2009 at 6:03 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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