Silent decline

20th June 2003 at 01:00
When I began teaching in 1968, the talk was of creativity. We were moving from formality. Children could sit in groups; they interacted; and not every sound was unwelcome.

New media were used: a television programme or dance music. Book covers hinted at participation and enjoyment. Progress rattled through the 1970s and early 1980s, with a child-centred approach. Teachers recognised the need for discovery, the hum of learning, and that a day's silence was neither golden nor educational.

More than a decade later, something has gone wrong. When did teachers regain pride in so much silence? Why are young children so still? A diet of tests and revision sessions has become their norm. Literacy involves fragmented texts, rushed writing and another objective reached. There is little time for artistic appreciation.

Lessons need to change but so do teachers. They cannot rely on the safety of one, prescriptive, literacy scheme. Are they still exploring and learning? Are they acquiring more information and ideas? If not, they will find it difficult to foster creativity in the next generation.

Eileen Jones

27 Suncliffe Drive Kenilworth, Warwickshire

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