Michael Gove, Britain’s Conservative shadow Children’s Minister, has unveiled their version of National standards. Like Anne Tolley, he is sure he knows what parents want. The Times reports:
‘I’m an unashamed traditionalist when it comes to the curriculum,’ Mr Gove said. ‘Most parents would rather their children had a traditional education, with children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England, the great works of literature, proper mental arithmetic, algebra by the age of 11, modern foreign languages. That’s the best training of the mind and that’s how children will be able to compete.’
He said that too much of the curriculum was about ‘airy fairy’ goals rather than hard facts. ‘I was amazed to discover that science is not divided into physics, chemistry and biology. It has these hybrid headings about the chemical and material whatever and the Earth, the environment and this and that.’
History should be taught ‘in order â€” it’s a narrative,’ Mr Gove said. Lessons should celebrate rather than denigrate Britain’s role through the ages, including the Empire. ‘Guilt about Britain’s past is misplaced.’
Gove aims to involve Prince Charles:
The Prince of Wales has expressed concern about the dumbing down of the curriculum. Traditional subjects are increasingly being replaced with themed lessons on social issues such as global warming, and children are encouraged to learn blogging instead of historical dates and classic books.
‘I’m a huge fan of the Prince’s Teaching Institute,’ Mr Gove said. ‘What Prince Charles has done is affirmed the real importance of subject knowledge. He’s absolutely right in saying that what draws people into teaching is that they love history or physics, and they want to communicate that love. They don’t love abstract thinking skills; they love the thrill of discovery in their own special field. We definitely want the Prince’s Teaching Institute to help.’
Politicians and princes should stay out of other people’s education in my view. Especially if the history is biased and the subject matter is out of date. And in our case, if the teachers have serious doubts about the methodology.