The 'heroes' of Higher Still

13th October 2000 at 01:00
THE public standing of teachers has risen immeasurably because they delivered Higher Still courses and yet their warnings of the impending exams disaster were ignored, Lindsay Paterson, professor of educational policy at Edinburgh University, told a Workers' Educational Association conference last week.

Professor Paterson, one of the Government's most outspoken critics, believed pupils would be able to learn about active citizenship from the example set by their head and classroom teachers.

"The sight of all these brave teachers and headteachers questioning the competence, even the integrity, of some of the most powerful people in Scottish education must have shown students of all ages that active citizenship is an honourable and perhaps even heroic activity," he aid.

A new Scottish democracy, with social justice at its heart, needed active, questioning young people, Professor Paterson said. "We need to encourage people to be much more critical by systematic thinking skills that are honed only through a rigorous programme of philosophical education. We need to encourage an ethos that democratises decision-making. And in education itself we need to encourage our students by being active, critical and courageous in their own attempts to influence the democratic processes."

Permanent opposition, far from being irresponsible, was the only intellectually respectable position to hold. "It is the only way in which educators can play their role in holding politicians and bureaucrats to account," Professor Paterson said.

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