Curriculum for Environmentalists
Sep 26, 2009
Bishop Hill in Education

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:

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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