Tuesday, 7 April 2009

What to study or how to learn?

Now this is really interesting:

There are things about this that really make me cheer: the suggestion that children would actually learn 'the chronology of history' sounds great - at least if it were to improve upon the current state of affairs. If I have to explain what happened in 1066 one more time... The removal of repetition in the curriculum is also heartily to be welcomed.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat perturbed at the idea that pupils will actually study things like health and wellbeing. Surely this belongs in areas of their lives other than the classroom? It's a little like the suggestion that universities are trying to turn out 'good citizens' - i.e. people who are what the state wants them to be. Universities should be trying to turn out strong, independently-minded individuals who can question and challenge the state on an intellectual basis and help it to continue to develop, change and respond. What else is education for?

As for studying Twitter and Wikipedia, that's actually quite funny; these days the average toddler can probably tweet before s/he can write! I suppose they may be able to help the teachers keep their skills up-to-date, though... For academics, it would mark as utterly futile all our attempts to emphasise the contingency of Wikipedia - and this is a more serious consideration. Web collaboration and shared knowledge is one thing; endlessly open access at a speed and extent beyond what can be constantly monitored and and moderated is another. Perhaps once again the solution is to think differently about learning; what pupils should actually be taught at this early age is how to check and verify information; one source is never enough, and a single claim is never reliable.

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