I wish to make a complaint…
That nice Mr Gove delivered his Christmas presents early this year. Not too early of course, otherwise teachers might still have been at work and managed to find the time to unwrap them before the end of term. In case he missed your chimney, here’s a link to a downloadable copy of the Report of the Irrational Curriculum Review.
So far I’ve not had the time, or to be honest the inclination, to read it in detail, so it’s quite possible I may have missed something significant in the small print. However, the item I was mainly interested was about the future status of D&T. And, as anticipated, the news is that D&T has passed on. This subject is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil. D&T is an extinct subject.
Well, demoted to a so-called ‘basic’ subject anyway, which means, along with ICT, it has been deemed to be of no academic relevance. Which it never was in the first place. Which is why I think that this is actually good news, in that it will free up the good D&T teachers to extend and develop the subject further, beyond the constraints of its Attainment Targets levels and Programmes of Study. And enable all those woodworkers and metal- bashers to get back to what they do best. I’d much rather children were taught good basic craft skills than bad D&T. Meanwhile it’s also good news that Art&Design has deservedly retained its place as a Foundation subject through to the end of Key Stage 3.
But what makes the Irrational Curriculum Review truly irrational is the focus on old-fashioned academic subjects at a time when other ‘white heat of technology’ countries are busy forging ahead with the development of skills for the 21st Century, about which I shall have more to say next year. To now delay UK curriculum reform further until 2014 just gives our competitors another year to move even further ahead.
Defining what knowledge should be taught from 2014 onwards is quite irrational, given that the amount and nature of knowledge changes by the day. What’s really needed is some form of flexible, responsive approach that enables what you didn’t know today would need to be taught tomorrow to be easily introduced.
If D&T has any sense, which sadly it rarely does, it will hastily re-position itself in the market as a purveyor of 21st century skills, delivered in a ‘basic’ cross-curricular learning space, along with IT, Business Education and Citizenship.
But finally, this Christmas, let’s spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves, deemed to search amongst the scraps for a stale curriculum morsel of Food Technology, which currently appears to be completely off the menu. For it was the wise Food Technologists who probably delivered the best that D&T ever provided, achieving a successful mix of traditional cookery skills combined with industrial understanding and practice. They will be sadly missed.
Meanwhile, a Merry Irrational Curriculum to one and all!