“We pay too little attention to the actual content of lessons: what gets taught and how it is taught”

Peter Wilby:

Above all, she aims straight for the most sacred cows to which even Tory ministers sometimes pay obeisance. Claims that you can teach “transferable skills”, that the 21st century changes everything and that “teacher-led instruction is passive” – all these are myths, she says. She is scathing about how Ofsted highlights and praises lessons where pupils do things “spontaneously”, such as spelling French words correctly, as though it were unnecessary to instruct them on such things. She dares to criticise John Dewey, a staple of teacher training courses, for his opaque writing style and to chide Charles Dickens for creating, through Hard Times’ Thomas Gradgrind and his daughter, the myth that teaching facts turns children into emotionally stunted adults. As a West Ham supporter who played for Warwick University’s women’s football team, she even critiques how we develop young footballers, arguing that children shouldn’t play 11-a-side matches on full-sized pitches until they’ve learned ball control.