Right balance in S1-S2;Letter

3rd September 1999 at 01:00
HENRY MAITLES (TESS, August 27) summarises his argument against integrated social subjects in S1 and S2 by saying: "It will not raise standards, but it does make timetabling easier." While the first point may be worthy of debate, the second is surely wrong.

Most approaches to time-tabling regrettably accord the lowest priority to S1 and S2; in other words the timetabling of these year groups is left till last. By this stage, timetablers are generally grateful for the flexibility offered by single-period subjects that can conveniently be placed anywhere in the week. Having timetabled for both separate and integrated social subjects in S1 and S2, my experience has been that the latter presents the greater challenge.

The issue of integrated social subjects, quite rightly, has nothing to do with making life easier for the timetabler. It is about achieving the right balance between subject-centred and pupil-centred teaching.

Henry Maitles emphasises the importance of developing positive values through having the opportunity in social subjects "to debate and develop and clarify argument".

How well can this be achieved when a teacher may have as little as 40 minutes per week to build a relationship with a class? This is the kind of question that should be at the heart of this debate, not spurious questions about pleasing the timetabler.

Michael Warren

Mayfield, Dunragit Stranraer

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