Jamie's Dream School: Stuff of nightmares?

11th March 2011 at 00:00

Doubtless there were more than a few staffroom sniggers at David Starkey's performance in the first episode of Jamie's Dream School last week ("Jamie's celeb lion tamer takes on 'savage beasts'", 4 March).

Here was a celebrity historian finding himself completely out of his depth when faced with what constitutes a daily reality for many history teachers.

I suspect they might feel less than sympathetic. "Wot a laf!" "The bloke hadn't got a clue." "Typical toff!"

The fact is, most history teachers would cope miles better with "renegade" pupils than Starkey. Not that Starkey was much worse than the other celebs, with the exception of Dame Ellen MacArthur, and her task was very different.

For all Starkey's failure in the classroom, he was, of course, brave to undertake the task and he was correct in his recognition that without a structure and ground rules, learning will not take place.

For the pupils concerned, the show is a gimmick too late. For them, probably the only hope is to join that other group of TV celebs who are spending a week in the slums of Nairobi for Red Nose Day.

Then our recalcitrant pupils might realise how lucky they are and how the power to improve comes from within - not from David Starkey or from anyone else.

And how wonderful it would be for them to learn through giving something to others.

The Dream School kids do not need a lesson in history or in English or in science. What they desperately need is a lesson in life!

Chris McGovern, Director, History Curriculum Association, Heathfield, East Sussex.

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