Missing the point better than not replying

8th June 2007 at 01:00
I enjoyed Donna Dale's rant last week in response to my article about anti-intellectualism in Scottish education, but her letter reveals serious misunderstanding of the argument I was advancing.

As my writings over many years will show, I have long regarded classroom teachers as the principal victims of the hostility to ideas among the educational establishment. Instead of being encouraged to think seriously about educational principles, teachers are initiated into a culture which is narrow in outlook and over-concerned with system maintenance rather than system development. They are permitted to ask "how" questions but not "why"

questions. Those teachers who show a capacity to think independently and critically are often regarded as troublemakers and passed over when it comes to promotion.

One consequence of this situation is a touchy, defensive "professionalism"

in which any attempt to raise challenging issues is portrayed as some kind of outrageous assault on the integrity of practitioners. Thus, instead of engaging with the points I made, Donna Dale chooses to characterise them as patronising, offensive and insulting.

She slips in a jibe about my chairing of the national chartered teacher conferences. I am sure she will be aware that there is an important and ongoing debate about the relative importance of academic and experiential components in the CT programme. I would have been interested to hear her views, and would have been more impres-sed by her stance if she had given specific examples of "blue skies" thinking to counter my claim that there is a strong vein of anti-intellectualism among the leadership class.

However, at least I provoked her into hitting the keys on her computer keyboard - and that's better than passivity.

Walter Humes

School of Education, University of Paisley

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