Book of the week: Visionary journey to pastures new

13th June 2003 at 01:00

Teaching in the Knowledge Society: education in the age of insecurity
By Andy Hargreaves
Professional Learning Series
Open University Press pound;20.50

Historians often agree that people living through a defining period of great change rarely have much idea of its significance. So even if the Wright brothers had some inkling of how their achievement would change the world, few of their contemporaries would have had any conception of what we mean when we say "Heathrow".

Now, there is definitely something odd happening in our world - that of the state-funded educational sector. Recently, we had Education Secretary Charles Clarke's primary education strategy Excellence and Enjoyment, which, as the TES leader on May 23 implied, gives primary schools carte blanche to be as adventurous as they like. The huge response to the TES Target Creativity campaign suggests it will be taken up in many quarters. Now there's Andy Hargreaves's book.

Consider and savour the following: "... instead of fostering creativity and ingenuity, more and more school systems have become obsessed with improving and micromanaging curriculum uniformity. In place of ambitious missions of comparison and community, schools and teachers have been squeezed into the tunnel vision of test scores, achievement targets and league tables of accountability... by and large our schools are preparing young people neither to work well in the knowledge economy nor to live well in a strong civil society...

"If we capitulate to the idea that state education can only be a low-cost system running on low-skilled, poorly paid and overloaded teachers whose job is to maintain order, teach to the test and follow standardised curriculum scripts, the teachers will be neither capable of nor committed to teaching for and beyond the knowledge society.

Tim Brighouse is commissioner for London schools

Read morenbsp;in this week's TES Friday magazine

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