Primacy of teaching;Opinion

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
Interest groups and quangos get a bad press, but there is something to be said for the governance of Scotland when it leads to an alliance of the Government's curriculum advisory body and the main teachers' union, plus a teacher education institute, in the promotion of a conference intended to set a future agenda.

"Making the Connection" in Glasgow last weekend, with The TES Scotland as the fourth partner, aimed to reassert the primacy of teaching and learning on the assumption that other matters, administrative and managerial, had become dominant in schools. The inspectorate in the shape of Graham Donaldson, depute senior chief, listened, took part in the concluding forum and promised to consider the issues that had been aired.

A guru was on hand to offer words of wisdom. David Perkins of Harvard is working on projects to improve understanding. If some of his advice was familiar to teachers who have already gone well beyond talk and chalk notions of teaching, his underlying message bears rehearsal: argument about what children should learn must take second place to knowing how best they do and can learn. Activity learning, which is what he promotes, depends on practised teaching. Any classroom teacher feeling undervalued would be happy with Professor Perkins's emphasis.

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