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Sixties classrooms were filled with smiles

Thank you for the report "Educators back new progressivism" (TES, January 24) in spite of its sad reminder that "progressive education did not succeed because it was never given a chance to bed down before the backlash began", although some might say that, at its best, it was always succeeding and will eventually be re-adopted.

As a teacher trained in the Sixties, I was slow to welcome any kind of progressive change but, after a decade of stubborn resistance, I was eventually converted. Although it was time-consuming to have to plan work tailored to the stage, ability and aptitude of each individual child, and was arguably more demanding than any amount of present-day national curriculum planning, the rewards were worth the effort.

Classrooms then were exciting places, filled with smiles and piles of dressing-up clothes, collages, prints, paintings, models, mobiles, book alcoves and interest corners. Polyhedra swung from the lights and papier-mache planets dangled from the ceilings - all mathematically sound with their measured angles and scaled proportions. The basics were never neglected. If anything, children seemed to know more then than they appear to know now.

I hope that The TES will continue to focus on the best of the Sixties before it is too late. I even long for the Sixties' songs, although I start to question the accuracy of my memory when I find myself singing "Where have all the hopefuls gone? Gone to OFSTED, everyone".

ALAN MILLARD 8 Medina Court Marine Parade West Lee-on-the-Solent Hants

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