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Teaching life skills

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2007

Britain has a teachers' union called the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Like America's teachers' unions — like unions of all kinds, really — it no doubt devotes a lot of energy toward maximizing its members' pay and benefits while minimizing the quantity and difficulty of the work they're expected to do.

But Britain's ATL seems to be pursuing work minimization with a vengeance. They've proposed discarding the current curriculum because it teaches "academics," and they say that's not fair to kids who aren't good at knowing things. They want the schools to focus on "life skills" such as — well, the ATL leadership has some ideas (emphasis added):

Speaking earlier this week, the acting deputy general secretary of the ATL, Martin Johnson, said: "There's a lot to learn about how to walk. If you were going out for a Sunday afternoon stroll you might walk one way. If you're trying to catch a train you might walk in another way and if you are doing a cliff walk you might walk in another way.

"If you are carrying a pack, there's a technique in that. We need a nation of people who understand their bodies and can use their bodies effectively."

His comments came as the union called for major changes to the education system that included the abolition of national examinations for pupils. The ATL would prefer a system where children were assessed by teachers.

By all means, have the kids assessed by people who think learning how to walk properly is more important than learning reading, writing, and math. And who find it much more agreeable to teach the former. 

Mr Johnson branded the national curriculum "totalitarian" because it prioritised academic education over other types of knowledge.

The union suggested that instead of the current national curriculum, which focuses on core subjects such as maths, English and science, teachers should have the freedom to adapt lessons to reflect a curriculum that concentrated on life skills.

The new curriculum could include lessons in physical co-ordination, personal skills, thinking skills and ethics, he suggested.

The same phrase comes to mind that occurred to me when the Iranians took the Brits hostage: WWMTD — What Would Margaret Thatcher Do?

Actually, I'm confused by ATL's emphasis on teaching walking. If the schools take over this function, what's to become of the Ministry of Silly Walks?
 

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