I went to school in the 1970’s. Some people say this was the time when it all went wrong. When state schools became all fluffy and child centred, when they renounced the traditional methods. Perhaps I just went to the wrong kind of state school, but this is not my memory at all. I remember it as a time when we kept our mouths shut and did as we were told. A time when those of us who refused to comply would be screamed at, humiliated, or beaten with a cane. Our lessons were traditional, we learned by rote, and we did an awful lot of copying from the board. Children were streamed by their perceived ability, with those at the ‘top’ given extra attention, while those at the ‘bottom’ were shunted to one side.
This is not a time to which I would want us to return. Despite all the difficulties it can cause us as educators, I am delighted that children now have a voice, and know their rights. Even though it makes a teacher’s job harder, I think it is wonderful that we are asked to engage children, rather than simply insisting that they comply. I have a theory that our view of how education should be is based (at least partly) on our own experiences as a school child. The terror I felt as a child, at the hand of adults, has coloured my entire vision of what education can and should look like. Corporal punishment was outlawed in state schools in the United Kingdom in 1987. Some of the people reading this blog post may not even have been born when this change was made. So please let us not forget, when we hark back to the ‘good old days’ that for some of us they didn’t feel that ‘good’ at all.