Putting The Skids under the curriculum

29th June 2007 at 01:00
Gregor Steele listens to The Smiths on days when he feels too cheerful for his own good

Having a sizeable commute most days has allowed me to become better acquainted with my CD collection. Sometimes this has had shatteringly disappointing consequences. Picture my look of anticipation as I put on my Pink Floyd compilation. Then picture my reaction when I realised that every other track was used on a 1985 educational video about reproduction in unicellular organisms. I should have been seeing colours in my mind; instead I had a succession of images of paramecium.

In my youth, I had a cassette machine that I used for taping, via a microphone, music from the Top 20. It sounded like it had been recorded through a hiking sock. Sometimes I found the consequences amusing: David Bowie appeared to sing that the Jean Genie kept all your dead hair for the making of underwear. It was years later that CD quality revealed to me that these were in fact the correct lyrics. At least with Bowie the words managed to convey an impression - think how well the song "Life on Mars"

captured the out-of-time isolation of the hero in the recent TV show of the same name.

Some weeks ago, I mentioned that I was having an in-car The Skids revival and I alluded to the obscurity of Richard Jobson's poetry. I can now report that I have discovered something therein that makes sense. It can be found among the words of "Peaceful Times". Yes, there's a lot of havering about Egyptian girls, jackals and momentous toys, but check out: "In peaceful times, new writers flow. In peaceful times, new winds can blow."

Jobson was, of course, anticipating the challenges of A Curriculum for Excellence. He foresaw the years after the implementation of Higher Still and 5-14 as ones of relative stability ("peaceful times") when "new winds", such as formative assessment and the development of thinking skills, would begin to blow.

It isn't clear whether he believed that the inevitable disruption of curricular form would shatter that peace and stop the new winds blowing.

Let's just hope the line "I sacrificed the methods of my dreams" is not overly prophetic.

On the other hand, perhaps we should not take too seriously a band that recorded a B-side consisting solely of the names of characters from Coronation Street.

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