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All of life is here

Carolyn O'Grady canvassed specialists to discover what is at the heart of their subject for future learning

MATHEMATICS

The core of the subject lies in its uniqueness as a form of knowledge. Its deductive processes allow claims to truth that no other subject can approximate. It encourages the development of problem-solving, communication, social, and reasoning skills . Competence allows us to understand our world better and make informed decisions; it facilitates our engagement in a participative democracy. It offers intellectual challenge and an appreication of beauty.

Dr Paul Andrews Association of Teachers of Mathematics

GEOGRAPHY

We help students make sense of the world. Pupils learn about the world's physical and human environments. Geography tackles the big issues: environmental responsibility; our global interdependence; cultural understanding and tolerance; commerce, trade and industry. The world in which we live is likely to change more in the next 50 years than it has ever done before. Geography explains why, and helps students prepare for those changes.

Frances Soar

Geographical Association

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

Pupils should discover this challenging reality: all knowledge is bounded by mystery. We all have to choose the beliefs we'll live by. They explore the five pillars of Islam, or the significance of bread and wine to Christians, the reasons Buddhist monks shave their eyebrows or the amazing Hindu Mandirs of ancient India and modern Neasden. This enables children to deepen their own responses to life's big questions: What really matters? Why respect other people? Is there a God? Why do we suffer? What inspires me? And then by looking at the work of Christian Aid or Islamic Relief, they can ask: if anything, what am I going to do about the way the world is?

Professional Council for Religious Education

LANGUAGES

Studying another tongue enables pupils to appreciate that language - any, including their own - is not arbitrary but works logically, according to distinct rules, and is strongly influenced by the culture of the country concerned. Coming to grips with another language is a liberating experience, helping pupils to realise that their own language and culture are not absolute norms. In the process they gain an awareness both of cultural diversity and of the power of language for communication and self-expression, and as a source of misunderstanding or manipulation.

Linda Parker Association for Language Learning

ART, CRAFT AND DESIGN

We are concerned with the transmission and transformation of cultures. Thus pupils should learn to appreciate, value and be tolerant of images and artefacts, Western and non-Western, contemporary and from other times, and to understand the contexts of their production. They should develop the capacity to work confidently and creatively with traditional media and new technologies, learning to reflect critically on their work and that of others, making reasoned judgments about quality, value and meaning, while developing a life-long interest in the visual arts.

John Steers, National Society for Education in Art Design

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Physical literacy is as important to children's education and development as numeracy and literacy. PE is the only educational experience where the focus is on the body, its movement and physical development. It helps children learn to respect and value their own bodies and abilities, and those of others. It positively enhances self confidence and self esteem through confidence in being physically active. It provides the skills, understanding and confidence for engagement in activity which is the basis for healthy, enjoyable, active lifestyles. It contributes to integrated development of mind and body, and enhances social and cognitive development.

Physical Education Association UK and British Association of Advisors and Lecturers in Physical Education

ENGLISH

At the heart of the subject lies a fertile blend of creativity and analysis. English provides pupils with the skills necessary to communicate, for a variety of purposes, in whatever format is appropriate: written, spoken, electronic. It should also enable them to stand back and analyse communications so that they develop as critical and aware citizens with independent minds. Pupils should also develop an awareness of the larger world of culture, including its varied literatures. This could be summed up as three literacies: creative, cultural and critical.

Dr Trevor Millum, National Association for the Teaching of English

MUSIC

Research has exemplified the power of music and its uniqueness as a form of communication: how immersing oneself in music nurtures personal expression, reflection and emotional development; how pupils begin to understand themselves and their relationships with other people and environments; and, how communal music-making develops a sense of group identity and team spirit - as well as a feel-good factor. The skills and competencies a good learner needs to develop are inherent in high-quality music education. Achievement can be raised significantly. Often pupils who reach their potential in music, whatever their capabilities, do well in other subjects. They also develop organisational skills, engage with their emotional intellect and their imagination is fired.

Derek KittNational Association of Music Educators

SCIENCE

The driving force in science will always be a unique combination of curiosity and a sense of awe and wonder of our world and its place in the universe. A key element for the future is the need to ensure that pupils, teachers and scientists alike have the investigative skills and appropriate level of conceptual understanding to engage in scientific debates as well as discussions on the ethical and moral issues that arise. Helping pupils learn how to raise questions, investigate them and develop explanations based on firm scientific evidence must always be at the heart of science education.

Dr Derek Bell, The Association for Science Education

HISTORY

There is no agreed single canon of historical content. History should allow children to encounter very different societies from their own, and to weigh different interpretations. They should study important themes from British history, but also European, American and non-Western history. The subject should be relevant: more distant history, such as the Crusades or the Reformation, can often be just as illuminating as more recent topics.

Above all, history should encourage openness of mind, respect for other views, and the ability to distinguish a valid and a shoddy line of argument.

Sean Lang, Historical Association

DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

We teach pupils the ability to embrace new technologies; think creatively to solve problems (individually and in teams) and improve the quality of life. They learn to identify needs, wants and opportunities, develop ideas and manufacture products and systems. The subject enables pupils to combine practical skills with an appreciation of aesthetics, social and environmental issues, function and industrial practices. Pupils become discriminating and informed users and innovators. Design and technology gives the confidence, skills and knowledge to participate in a rapidly changing technological society.

The Design and Technology Association

ICT

As well as being an important specialist subject , ICT enables everyone to learn better. Pupils with good ICT skills will be able to undertake research, process, analyse and present information, communicate in a variety of ways with different audiences, model and investigate situations, and originate and create their own materials in a professional manner. ICT can give them access to world-wide knowledge and experts; they also need the skills to make critical and informed judgements about the authenticity and validity of material they gather. Effective use of ICT helps students to manage and organise their own learning, and develop independence and autonomy.

Naace, the profession's association for ICT in education

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