Sixties classrooms were filled with smiles

7th February 1997 at 00:00
Thank you for the report "Educators back new progressivism" (TES, January 24) in spite of its sad reminder that "progressive education did not succeed because it was never given a chance to bed down before the backlash began", although some might say that, at its best, it was always succeeding and will eventually be re-adopted.

As a teacher trained in the Sixties, I was slow to welcome any kind of progressive change but, after a decade of stubborn resistance, I was eventually converted. Although it was time-consuming to have to plan work tailored to the stage, ability and aptitude of each individual child, and was arguably more demanding than any amount of present-day national curriculum planning, the rewards were worth the effort.

Classrooms then were exciting places, filled with smiles and piles of dressing-up clothes, collages, prints, paintings, models, mobiles, book alcoves and interest corners. Polyhedra swung from the lights and papier-mache planets dangled from the ceilings - all mathematically sound with their measured angles and scaled proportions. The basics were never neglected. If anything, children seemed to know more then than they appear to know now.

I hope that The TES will continue to focus on the best of the Sixties before it is too late. I even long for the Sixties' songs, although I start to question the accuracy of my memory when I find myself singing "Where have all the hopefuls gone? Gone to OFSTED, everyone".

ALAN MILLARD 8 Medina Court Marine Parade West Lee-on-the-Solent Hants

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