The real villains behind the generation which cannot think

13th February 2009 at 00:00

If you seek confirmation of Professor Tim Birkhead's thesis that "the national curriculum ... often (eliminates) the discovery process from learning" you need look no further than the grotesque story on the previous week's front page, "GCSEs taught in 60 minutes" (TES, January 30).

It is fashionable among teachers nowadays to refer to their pupils as learners; I've even seen classrooms relabelled as learning rooms. This politically correct nonsense highlights the point: education should be about understanding, not about mere learning.

My iPhone has the complete text of every one of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets and can thus be said to have "learnt" them. Should we award it a GCSE in English literature?

Of course not. My iPhone has no more understanding of Shakespeare than the pupils at Monkseaton High have an understanding of science based on their mindless exposure to repeated subliminal PowerPoint slides crammed with "facts".

I doubt many teachers would have been moved to join the profession if they had been shown banks of children hooked up to computers, reciting the elements of the periodic table like drones from George Orwell's 1984.

Matthew Handy, Principal, Salinger's College, Harrogate.

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