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Facts, Mr Gradgrind, facts!

‘Children need freedom and chaos, not tests, ticks, and smiley faces’ review | Children's Books - Times Online
...Rosen is a vociferous opponent of current education policy, which he describes variously as loony, disastrous and backward; “teachers are treated like squaddies”, children fare even worse. One of his poems, in an anthology called No Breathing in Class, is about a teacher who is so strict that she bans breathing.

There had been “this extraordinary shift in the past ten years: you don’t talk about teaching and learning, you talk about management”...

As the children get older, many schools say they don’t have time to read “whole” books.

“What is the point if you never learn about outcome? The reason why you read novels or stories is in great part because you want to see whether the baddie gets their comeuppance, whether the girl gets their boy, why their dad lied to them. It’s crucial to it.

“If all you do is just look at a page and then answer five questions about adjectives and clauses or whatever, it denies what any of us are in the business for. Any writer, ever, from Homer onwards.”

This “completely misleads teachers and children, and from them parents, that the way we respond to stories is about facts”. In doing so, it “curtails the emotional response”.

At the same time – and Rosen finds this a piquant absurdity – government ministers are calling for emotional literacy, or happiness lessons. Nothing to do with our children’s happiness, he said, only that of adults.

“All anxieties about children and youth are not about them at all, it’s about our anxieties about our future as adults,” he said.

“We’re busy screwing up and so we project all that on to children saying, ‘My God, the little beasts don’t say please any more’. ”

If you let Rosen talk, he quite rapidly takes an idea and runs away with it, expanding into radical reform of education, scrapping “backward” faith schools, rethinking the “19th-century” curriculum, letting children decide what they want to learn. It’s imaginative and possibly hopelessly left-wing.

Cosy it is not, but it acknowledges the maverick side of children that longs for freedom, not restraint

A damning indictment of the system, read the rest; but why is wanting to give children freedom to learn and to educate them rather than teach and school them "hopelessly left-wing"?


Maybe because Rosen is probably a member of the SWP. He certainly contributes articles to its website. Funny, I can't imagine a member or supporter of the BNP - no matter how gifted a writer - being appointed children's laureate.

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