What's in a name? Lots

14th November 2008 at 00:00

If there is one thing my religious upbringing taught me, it was to beware of zealots. Zeal smells of fanaticism and denies reason or opposition, bringing us the next Next Big Thing until, like last year's fashions, it is consigned to the educational clearance rail.

But it is not the changes per se which annoy me so much as the language used to sell them. Take A Curriculum for Excellence: an awkward but nonetheless objectionable title implying, as it does, that for many years we have been delivering a curriculum for mediocrity.

These namers, sloganisers and acronym-makers insult the rest of us with their statements of the obvious dressed up as innovative thinking. Who came up with the "Better Behaviour, Better Learning" slogan of yesteryear, a thought so obvious as to be insulting? Or "Schools of Ambition", which sounds great if you are in one but, if yours doesn't have that title bestowed on it, then you must be in a place of no ambition. And "Every Child is Special" sounds rather dodgy in this PC world, with the overriding negative overtones of the word "special".

I've lived and taught through lots of brilliance, as some new educational baby is christened and zealously trumpeted, then unceremoniously dispatched with the bathwater before too long. There have been some good ideas, occasional good practice even and some dreadful failures.

But, like Orwell's pigs, our educational masters are always right, and they must be followed without question because They Know How To Use Capital Letters Properly. And the headteachers and the trainers squeal delightedly as if this, at last, is the Holy Grail of education.

A Curriculum for Excellence will fail, since it must be superseded. So, might I suggest the next innovation, inspired as I am by that great educator, Peter Kay? It's called A Curriculum for Brilliance in our Schools of Genius where Every Child is Extra Special through Amazing Behaviour for Enhanced Learning in the 21st Century, Part 1. It has a certain ring to it.

Michael Coyle, Glasgow.

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