How does your D&T garden grow?


Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Once upon a time, a young Michael Gove probably enjoyed learning, reciting and being tested on an innocent little nursery rhyme that was all about a pretty little garden. However, its origins are apparently steeped in history. According to some sources, Mary is ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor, and the ‘garden’ is thought to be a reference to the growing number of graveyards filled with all those who refused to agree with her. Meanwhile the silver bells and cockle shells were actually references to torture by thumbscrews and, well you can guess for yourselves what part of the body cockle shells might be attached to. And ‘pretty maids’ it seems were actually an early form of the guillotine.  (Other interpretations are available from all good websites)

All Change Please! hardly needs to spell it out, does it? Today “Bloody’ Michael Gove is creating an increasing number of graveyards that accommodate all the positive developments that have taken place in education over the past 50 years, and is doing so by inflicting the torture of new EBacc and NC specifications and applying them to various sensitive parts of the profession. And if you still disagree, to mix my nursery rhymes, here comes Ofsted to chop off your head.

During the past few days reaction to the proposed Design & Technology National Curriculum has been largely one of disbelief, and focused mainly on the inclusion of gardening and cookery. As far as All Change Please! can discover, a number of conservative Middle England organic gardening concerns launched a full-scale Thatcher-esque ‘Task Force’ to persuade the DfE to include food and gardening as part of the National Curriculum to promote a more healthy future lifestyle for our children. Now of course All Change Please! has no problem with that as such – it’s just a pity, and entirely inappropriate, that D&T should be expected to deliver it.

All Change Please! has also heard ‘on the grapevine’ that references in the new curriculum to sustainability were not permitted, and indeed there is no mention of it anywhere in the whole document, so in the immediate future it seems unlikely to be included. But of course there is absolutely nothing to stop teachers adding it into the mix themselves.

Meanwhile it seems that at a D&T conference on Wednesday 13th there was a growing awareness and acceptance that perhaps the current delivery of the subject in most schools was not working effectively and had failed to sufficiently move forward in recent years. Indeed the strong reaction against the inclusion of horticulture merely reflects the wider community’s refusal to even consider change. These days survival demands rapid evolution to meet new challenges, not standing still and putting up the barricades.

It remains important however for the DfE to receive as many objections as possible to the current proposals, but at the same time simply criticising the inclusion of horticulture and suggesting that it should be simply thrown onto the compost heap are unlikely to achieve anything – food and horticulture are not going to go away. Instead it will be helpful to clearly articulate what the practical issues of implementation are, and as such how they might be potentially detrimental to the future of art, design and technology education and subsequent HE and career progression. The objective needs to be to clarify that the knowledge and skills involved in growing and cooking food are different (but no less worthy) disciplines to creative design-led problem-solving and that as such they need to be staffed and accommodated accordingly.

In All Change Please‘s last post ‘Are Bill and Ben working at the DfE?‘ it promised its consultation re-draft of the D&T proposals, and indeed they are available here D&TNCEdited (pdf download). It is interesting to see how, that with just a few changes of terminology and the removal of the exemplification, the content suddenly sounds a great deal more acceptable, if still far from ideal. While it remains a missed opportunity to actively prompt and inspire the further positive development of D&T, at least now it no longer reads like something written in the 1950s.

And finally, here’s a Christmas Cracker of a joke sent in by Roberta from Manchester:

                ‘Why did Michael Gove include horticulture in Design & Technology?’

                ‘Because he thought it was a STEM subject…’

Followed by the adaption of the saying “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” by Dorothy Parker, and submitted by a reader from Hereford:

                “You can take a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”

Image Credit: Kira Jones Designs

2 comments on “How does your D&T garden grow?

  1. This is an improvement but not an excuse for a poorly written NC draft after two years of consultation. Some constructive criticisms: Should cooking be listed first in the Key Stages? ‘Where available’ is a let out clause and will lead to perfunctory learning for many. This highlights a divide between the haves and have nots in schools. How, for instance, would this redraft address the potential of drugged horsemeat in beef on nutrition, unless pupils were given access to non-processed food, when not ‘available’?

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