Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Historically accurate!

It is interesting tha the national 'debate' (or has the conclusion already been arrived at) about the common curriculum is of different quality depending where you focus.
The Language and Maths areas for example are very narrowly focussed on fairly mundane skills...grammar, adding up, multiplying, spelling...and so on.
The History area is really about evaluative interpretation. Long ago (when I was at school) I remember being told by someone who had not long been out of university that history was not about regurgitating dates. This was news to me. As it seemed that that was all it had been about up until then.
So 1066 is immediately recognisable as a date of significance, and indeed 1914-1918.
But get into it at any deeper level and it is apparent, even obvious , that the dates are not that significant.
They are of course easy to teach!
But what is important is the meaning and interpretation of events, words and actions.
This requires a level of critical skill which is far more important than being able to regurgitate the sucession of British monarchs from 1066 to the present day.

This is also true of English.While I do think that it's important to be able to spell, and to write relatively intelligble English. It's also vital that anyone is taught how to evaluate what is written as well as to spell it correctly.
And not just what is written. But also what is thrust at us in the form of advertising, the values that are promoted through TV and film, and the inevitable need to work out what on earth is the value of anything that appears on the internet.

Lest we think that all problems are solved with rote learning of grammar and spelling, we should I think try to address this some what more deeply and realise that that is only a start.

Maths is a bit more tricky. I am always amazed when I arrive at a checkout and am told that the cost is $7.15; when I hand over a $10 note and a 5 cent and 10 cent piece (thinking I am making their life easier) I am sometimes faced with a puzzled look.
This is because the cash register has told them that the change is $2.85 and they can't always easily work out what they should do when I give the extra 15 cents.
This is very low level stuff.
I think Maths is also evaluative. Statistics are used widely, but which of us can adequately assess what we are told unless we can sort the wheat from the chaff. (don't even start me about the use of metaphor!!)

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