Best curriculum would be slim but traditional

11th February 2011 at 00:00

Anyone who works in or around education starts to get a little wary of admonitions along the lines of "we must provide young people with the skills they need for the 21st century".

In this vein, Helen Flynn (Letters, 14 January) goes as far as to suggest we begin a "sober appraisal of the skills our young people need ... so that they can be adaptable in a whole host of difficult-to-predict and unimagined scenarios". Surely such an appraisal, if it were truly sober, would admit that we can't predict very well what skills young people will need in the future?

This throws us back to providing them with the basic capabilities to learn those skills as and when it becomes apparent just what they are. And rather than point necessarily to "innovation", supplying such capabilities could just as easily point towards more traditional academic subjects. Since there is good evidence that the latter prepare young people well for the 21st-century labour market, surely the answer is a national curriculum that has a core of traditional subjects but is slimmed down enough to allow for innovation, too?

Dr Matt Grist, Senior researcher, Demos.

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