Sunday 1 February 2015

Times tables knowledge is for ministers to segregate

All knowledge in English education is linked to testing, league tables, academy conversion and the like.  In other words the question in front of us isn't really 'Is this or that subject or piece of knowledge more or less important for children to study?' but instead: 'Which form of knowledge will be the best means (for the government) by which to select, segregate, and divide pupils, teachers and schools?' With most primary schools refusing to convert to academy status, the government had to invent a new means by which to force them to do so. 

That's why ministers talk of forms of knowledge that can be micro-measured as right or wrong: times tables, punctuation, spelling. 

On the way, this kind of work forces schools, teachers and pupils to spend hours sitting still and learning things by rote. Though there's nothing much wrong with doing this sometimes - especially if you choose to do it, - what's wrong is that if you are forced to do loads and loads of it, hours and hours every day, what you are also learning is submission, subservience, bowing down to unquestionable and unquestioned authority.