Dead languages beat live subjects in EBac madness

28th January 2011 at 00:00

So the education secretary thinks that he is putting things right in our much-maligned education system by restoring the primacy of "facts and figures". Forgive me for not holding my breath.

Successive governments throughout the 20th and now the 21st centuries have subjected the curriculum to continual reinvention. The really depressing truth is not so much that ministers have come up with the wrong answers as that they are asking the wrong questions.

If we want to improve the education of our children, we need to focus not on more (or different) "facts and figures" but on a much nobler objective, namely "the awakening of the mind to the consciousness of its own power, cultivating its faculties of observation, perception, reflection, judgment and reasoning: training it, in short, to form habits of thinking".

The educational reformer I quoted is Joseph Payne; he wrote those words back in 1856. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose - and that's a fact.

Martin Priestley, Headmaster, Warminster School, Wiltshire.

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