Prophet professor

The current review of the curriculum has certainly brought back memories for Professor Gordon Kirk, former head of Moray House (aka dean of the faculty of education at Edinburgh University) - as his article this week reveals (Platform, page 21).

Older readers will recall that Kirk was a member of the Munn committee which reported on the S3-S4 curriculum in the 1970s. On their innumerable train journeys together, Kirk, then a humble head of department at Jordanhill, remembers regaling chairman James Munn with some "purple passages" from the 1947 report of the advisory council on secondary education, "before he took refuge in his newspaper".

This was in the hope that "by some curious osmosis, the magisterial and unsurpassed elegance of J J Robertson's prose would empower us to generate a worthy successor to that great report". Not a bad purple passage itself.

Kirk was then chiefly remembered for his "note of reservation" to the Munn report, which now reads uncannily presciently (enough purple prose - Ed).

Young people should have an effective social studies programme, he wrote, which would cover such ground as: how do human beings develop emotionally, what are the causes of the problems of adolescence and mental illness, how do we learn and what are the most effective ways of learning?

Now where have we heard all of that lately? Step forward Prophessor Kirk.

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