The Battle for Education
in association with the IoI Education Forum and sponsored by the General Teaching Council for England
Modernising the curriculum - the tyranny of relevance?
Saturday 29 October 2005
Introduction to the day: Wendy Earle, Commissioning Editor (Education), British Film Institute; IoI Education Forum
10.30am – 12.00pm
Modernising the curriculum - the tyranny of relevance?
Sir Howard Newby, chief executive of HEFCE, hit the headlines when he dismissed sciences such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering and biology as ‘nineteenth century’ subjects and welcomed the growth of new hybrid subjects relevant for the future. The collapse in numbers studying mathematics post-16 after the Curriculum 2000 review has only increased pressure for wider reform.
Meanwhile, the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) argue for a revamped "curriculum... responsive to the larger social, ethnic and technological world of our culture". It is argued that English lessons should deliver a more a more "culturally relevant and up-to-date vision of English for all", including TV drama, surfing the web and deconstructing newspapers.
But as the demand that traditional disciplines and subjects be revamped to make them relevant for the 21st century, the question needs to be asked, relevant to what? Is there a danger that subjects might be watered down if they become too diffuse and susceptible to contemporary demands of the market, employment or contemporary culture? What kind of curriculum should we aspire to for the 21st century?
Professor Piers Hellawell; Professor of Composition Queen’s University of Belfast, composer
Dave Perks, Head of Physics, Graveney School, South London; IoI Education Forum
Professor John White Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Education, Institute of Education University of London, author of The Child’s Mind, Rethinking the School Curriculum (ed.) and The Curriculum and the Child
Simon Wrigley, Chair, National Association for the Teaching of English
Chair: Claire Fox Director, Institute of Ideas
1.30 – 3pm
It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it - the learning styles controversy
Where once teachers and their knowledge were the prime concerns in pedagogy, now it is learners and their skills that have taken centre-stage. In the future, it is argued, schools will not transmit bodies of knowledge, for these are of little use in our fast-moving knowledge economy. Instead, they will foster ‘learnacy’, the skills and dispositions that pupils need to reflect on and improve their own learning. New theories abound, from Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences to Learning to Learn models; from the so-called learning revolution brought about by ICT and e-learning to the current obsession with blended learning styles.
Is it possible to teach children anything if the process of education becomes separated from the content? Are pupils being empowered or left to fend for themselves? Are new technologies transforming education, putting learners in charge of their learning by the click of a mouse? Or are new theories and technologies a Trojan horse for ideological assaults on teacher’s authority?
Guy Claxton Professor of the Learning Sciences, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol ; author of the best-selling Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, and The Wayward Mind
Dr Kathryn Ecclestone Director, MSc/PhD Programme, Post-compulsory, FE, School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Exeter
Keri Facer Director of Learning Research at NESTA Futurelab; Lecturer in Education and New Technologies at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol
Sandy Starr technology editor at spiked, and international consultant on internet regulation issues
Chair: Toby Marshall, head of English and communications, Havering College of Further and Higher Education; IoI Education Forum
3.30 – 5pm
The new professionalism - the fate of the teacher in the era of Every Child Matters
Traditionally the teacher’s role has been quite clear-cut: to provide the education and skills required for participation in a modern culture and economy and a democratic society. Increasingly, though, teachers are expected to play a broader role in the care and socialisation of children and young people – from monitoring parenting practices and children’s diets to policing children’s behaviour and attitudes. Schools are being re-conceptualised and remodelled to support a range of community and family services. The DfES is vigorously promoting ‘extended schools’ and the creation of an ‘extended workforce’. The Children’s Act and Every Child Matters make child protection a core responsibility for the 21st century teacher.
Will these new roles confuse parents, pupils and teachers about the aims of schooling? Will the unique contribution of teachers to new generations, introducing children to the world of the mind and ideas, be sidelined by attempts at making them an part of a extended children’s services department?
Carol Adams Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for England (GTCE)
Andrew Carter OBE Headteacher, South Farnham School
Ian Johnston Director, British Association of Social Workers
Joanna Williams English teacher and researcher into the impact of social inclusion policy upon education; IoI Education Forum
Chair: Dr Dennis Hayes, Head of the Centre for Professional Learning at Canterbury Christ Church University; vice president of the lecturers’ union Natfhe
Summation of day: Alec Turner, Health and Social Care tutor, City and Islington College; IoI Education Forum