New UK curriculum ramps up lessons in SPAAAACE
More facts crammed into brains in draft schools shakeup
British children will be taught more about the solar system and evolution in an overhaul of the primary school curriculum proposed yesterday by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Gove reckons his new draft lesson plan will "restore rigour" to classrooms by bumping up the amount of stuff kids have to learn: in science that will mean telling youngsters more about neighbouring planets and how creatures emerged from Earth's primordial ooze, which will make a change from the Pokemon flavour of evolution the tykes are used to.
Blighty's under-12s will also be made to learn more about the concept of speed - presumably the magnitude of velocity rather than the drug.
In line with the approach to science in schools in Alberta and Massachusetts, there will be a new focus on getting kids to do experiments.
In maths, pupils will be expected to do more work with fractions - a level consistent with education in Singapore - and know their times tables up to 12 x 12 instead of the current top limit of 10 x 10. In English, spelling will be beefed up, and pupils will be expected to know how to use apostrophes correctly and master formal English by reciting poetry. ®
So, in summary, they're going to change the curriculum back to how it was twenty years ago?
I was just thinking that.
When I was in primary school, the times tables always went up to 12 x 12. Sometimes it went up to 15 x 15. And it wasn't as simple as just doing them once after just memorising them and then forgetting about it, you had to do the whole times table, using your head, aloud, in front of the class, with zero warning, without hesitating or you were told to sit down. And at regular intervals, those who were still missing certain times tables on their record for that month / term / whatever were rebuked and forced to do them.
This is when I was 8, not 12, in a bog-standard inner-city state primary school. I ended up with a maths degree (despite being regarded as atrociously bad at mental arithmetic at the time - something I now attribute to poor memory and stage-fright more than mathematical capability - but apparently a lot better than most kids these days). We did planets, we did evolution, we did velocity (literally, not just speed), we did experiments, we did apostrophes, we did poetry. And I tell you now, Singapore are going to be yelling at the UK. Suggesting that our standards come ANYWHERE near theirs for general education is ridiculous.
Although any kind of improvement is welcome (yes, current education is JUST THAT BAD in the UK), this is a teensy first step to getting back to where we were, not making great advances. But still parents will moan that their children are being worked too hard. Incidentally, I never had ANY homework when I was in primary school and had only minimal amounts throughout secondary school, so god-knows what they are doing in class now that everyone has hours of government-mandated homework each week and STILL they couldn't even attempt a GCSE Maths paper back from when I was a kid - and even back then, the 60's O-level papers were a sure way to scare the hell out of any child studying for exams because of their HUGELY increased complexity compared to even the 90's papers.
Kids these days LITERALLY don't know how easy they have it.
Re: Too much added, not enough removed
I think you've mistaken education for employment training. Education isn't there solely to get you a skilled labour job, for instance, but to make your life easier even if you don't use those skills in your job (e.g. working out the APR on a credit card).
In the schools I've worked in, the humanities get little time and attention anyway. Removing it from secondary school would only serve to make the available interests disappear more into Art vs Science for students.
DT is a bit worthless now but I'm not sure that pasta bakes shouldn't be taught. Do you expect only to teach how to make a Sunday Roast and an English Breakfast? Cooking is cooking and provides skills applicable to all meals and - incidentally - introduces students to a large section of international culture, encourages them to try new things, etc. Cooking is not about heating up ingredients until they're brown (which, incidentally, is how I cook and never experiment). I agree that cooking should be more focused - they literally should be expected to cook one meal each a week (unlike the once-per-year that I had), it's such an important part of life and SO many people can't do without a microwave nowadays. And with healthy-eating initiatives, there's REALLY nothing wrong with a good pasta bake compared to the junk the average UK household eats.
You are still taught to wire a plug. It's the other stuff that's gone out of the window (soldering especially!) because of the fecking H&S junk that schools are burdened with (and, incidentally, this is also the cause of the decline of DT which used to be metalwork and woodwork in my father's day, was making a small wooden box and spending months commenting on the design and marketing in my day, and is now making little cardboard toys because they can't use a great deal of tools unsupervised any more). Carpenty, plumbing would come into that if we did it properly, like we used to. Electronics is all-but dead in the average school because nobody knows how to teach it, let alone can fund it and find time for it beyond making a bulb light when you press a switch.
Maths in real-world situations? You don't understand how maths works. You're confusing arithmetic with maths. Arithmetic is for dumbing it down only when they struggle, maths itself is infinitely more than that and a specialism in itself. I'm all for separating off the specialist stuff and having "real-world" maths (i.e. arithmetic and simple physics) but then you have to make that part absolutely compulsory and they don't pass without competency in it (which is a struggle enough in itself).
How would you like it if we said that electronics should only be taught in "real-world situations", like never making a circuit and if you do, you hire a PCB designer and autorouter to do the hard work of making an over-powered, generic chip do all the work in software? That's "real-world" nowadays, because you can't even touch most electronics these days without stupid amounts of specialised equipment (e.g. PoP, SMD, etc.). And, incidentally, without maths your electronics won't work. Even calculating a simple charge-discharge cycle for a simple RC circuit is beyond current students.
Maths is the same - "real-world maths" is adding up and times tables and balancing your chequebook. That's not maths, and if you think it is, you missed the point of shoving maths down your throat for all those years. Real-world maths you could teach in a year - that's what primary school did for me, for instance - and then get onto some real interesting stuff. Trouble is, our kids still can't do their 10 times tables at age 11 currently!
What we need is less spoon-feeding and more teaching, as well as giving you an incentive to learn - in some European countries you DO NOT GRADUATE until you have completed all the basic courses. You will literally spend your teenage years in the first year classes until you pass them, while all your mates move on and laugh at you. This continues through high-school until you are 20 if you're not too bright and they will just keep making you re-take those years. This a) makes you want to learn, b) puts the fear of failure into you, c) makes you worry for job prospects if you're lazy, d) makes sure your classmates aren't held back so you can learn 2+2, e) keeps you busy and thinking rather than languishing at the back of a class you don't understand. Hell, in Italy, the high-schools could fail you and put you back a year because you misbehaved too much during the year or were late (and what perfect incentive to behave and be on time!).
Go to a university. Find a foreign student. Ask about their education. If you don't come away SO relieved at the easy way you went through school compared to them, you should be ashamed.