Balance of life has to be right

7th January 2000 at 00:00
I HAVE just read the Secretary of State's proposals following the review of the national curriculum for England. I am delighted by his proposals for citizenship, democracy and personal, social and health education.

I have long-believed that education needs to be more a training for life - in exploring, thinking, communicating, decision-making, problem-solving, relating and working together rather than the ability to regurgitate doubtful information in written form.

But, I am horrified by the vast list of knowledge, skills and attitudes that are student-teacher "entitlements". I am 56 years old and am still striving to master them all so I wonder how young teachers can demonstrate the attitudes and abilities, impart the knowledge and provide all the experiences listed.

I am also surprised by the Education Secretary's hypocrisy in expecting teachers to work hader, improve standards and help young people to realise that the balance of work, rest and play (or in the document's words "work, leisure and exercise") affects mental health when there is growing evidence that more teachers are more stressed. What opportunities are we giving them and young people to play?

The Government cracks down, teachers crack down and everyone cracks up. Why try to go faster and carry more when we know that eventually things come off the rails? When will teachers stand up and be honest and say they can't take any more? We all have limitations and the pursuit of perfection is a fool's game.

Let's consign most of the statutory requirements to the sidelines, concentrate on social enjoyment in school and leave commerce to train the specialities.

Ken Allcock

6 Holywell House

Holy Well Road

Malvern, Worcestershire

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