Ignoring the teacher

21st January 2000 at 00:00
THE consultation paper on 5-14 environmental studies recently issued by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum raises a number of very serious questions about the mechanisms and integrity of the consultative process.

The document was sent to schools in mid-December, although many colleagues are still unaware of its existence. As far as I know secondary schools were sent three copies. (Even in the relatively small school in which I work about 25 staff are directly affected by its proposals.)

Responses are due to be returned to the SCCC by January 31 - total consultation period for a complex 88-page document, about six weeks, including a two-week holiday period over Christmas and New Year.

Given the low-key arrival of the document and particularly in view of the the ongoing Higher Still imperatives in secondary schools, the shortage f the consultation period is nothing short of a disgrace.

This would be bad enough if the proposals were anodyne, but this is far from the case. The mantra of hope that "pupils will be independent learners", "active agents in their own learning" is once again repeated. While a creditable aspiration, this flies in the face of reality for a large number of early adolescent "students" brought up on a diet of Bart Simpson, South Park and Tomb Raider.

As I go about my daily challenges dealing with the collateral damage of under resourced social inclusion policies and "students" whose attention is measured in nanoseconds, I wonder where the authors of parts of this document work, and the directions in which they wish their (no doubt meteorically) rising careers to go. But then again I'm just a cynic.

Jack Bairner

Craigmill, Stirling.

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