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Chris McGovern: Starting out with an A grade? More stupidity from the education ‘experts’


Should pupils start their learning with their teachers giving them a Grade A and, then, be immune from failure? This is what is being proposed by that august institution, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), of which I am a Fellow. Welcome to the fantasy world of educational ‘experts’!

I spent 35 years telling my pupils to be honest with themselves and with others.  I now see the opposite, dishonesty, being promoted as a desirable virtue for teachers and by a body that has a royal charter. I doubt if Queen Victoria, who granted that charter, would be amused. And how unkind and unhelpful it is to children.

Sadly, this RSA initiative is grounded in much of what is already happening in schools and has, for long, been promoted by many teacher trainers. This raises the question of what exactly qualifies someone to enter teacher training? It is an important matter since more or less everything in education depends on the quality of our teachers.

Here, then, are the ‘Ten Commandments of Teaching’. All new entrants to the profession are expected to embrace them. Commit yourself to these and the door to teacher training will swing open. Question these and you will need to look for another career.

Ten Commandments of Teaching

  1. How you teach is more important than what you teach. The process of teaching is more important than what children learn, the product of teaching
  2. Mastering a body of knowledge is an out-of-date aim since knowledge is easily accessed via the internet. Children need only be taught cross-curricula and utilitarian skills to access and evaluate knowledge, not the knowledge itself.
  3. Teachers are learning facilitators and process managers of the learning process for each individual child. Whole class teaching is undesirable since it is the antithesis of ‘personalised’, computer-assisted learning.
  4. Central to a pupil’s classroom experience, and of paramount importance, is the ‘feel-good’ factor. Children are not capable of accepting adverse criticisms or judgements and should not be subjected to them.
  5. There is no such thing as ‘failure’. To try is to succeed.
  6. All of a pupil’s work should be celebrated all of the time.
  7. A principal objective of education is to promote ‘value relativism’. There is no such thing as objective truth. All knowledge is provisional.
  8. Teaching is too complicated and sophisticated a process to be understood by anyone outside of the profession, including parents and Government.
  9. Competition in both academic and non-academic areas of school life is divisive.  It is inherently bad since it involves ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.
  10. Assessment of pupils and of teachers can only be properly carried out from within the profession.

The RSA report is being portrayed as something new. In fact, there is nothing new about it at all. It is simply a reaffirmation of all that is held sacred in the fantasy world of contemporary British education

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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