or really doing something about what children learn?
I think they are playing around trying to make it look as if they are "getting back to basics". Yes, there was a piece in the paper talking about the curriculum again, about changes to the curriculum.
They are now saying they aren't going to teach fractions and telling them time on an analogue clock until most children are nine. I looked at that a little puzzled. I was taught to do simple fractions in my first year at school. (I was four, most children would have been five.) I was taught to tell the hours and half hours before I went to school and by age nine I knew about "railway time".
No, I don't think there was anything particularly extraordinary about this. Most children of my generation did this. It was expected we would know.
I had my annual 'flu vaccination last week. In the waiting area a mother was trying to get a young girl to do some "reading practice". Of course the "book" was on a screen but the mother was telling the child to "sound it out" when she came to a word she did not know. We discussed it. The mother told me that her child knew nothing of phonics and had not been taught any "word attack" skills. The mother did not use those terms but she had instinctively tried to show her child how to approach a word. "It just makes sense that way but she wasn't told that at school."
Children are being taught a lot at school. The concern seems to be that the curriculum has become too crowded. The revisions to the curriculum are supposed to be about "basics" but there are still things there that are getting in the way of learning those basics. There is still an emphasis on social skills that parents should be teaching. There is still an emphasis on social issues and "awareness" rather than actually learning. A neighbour who is a paediatrician was criticised for teaching her older child that "some things about boys and girls are different". It left her, to say the least, bemused.
If parents taught children to respect other people, to be polite, and simply accept differences - and schools simply reinforced that - then surely all this "social education" could be largely replaced with learning other skills? I have a sneaking suspicion that the emphasis on social education is making children more aware of differences and less tolerant of them.