How Trendy Teaching 'Gives Pupils Huge Gaps in Knowledge'

Article excerpt

'Deeply corrosive TEACHING in state schools is being stripped of facts and figures as politicians hijack the curriculum to promote fashionable causes, a report warned yesterday.

Traditional subjects such as history, geography and science are being 'corrupted' by political agendas, claimed the report from think-tank Civitas.

Pupils leave school with huge gaps in their knowledge because lessons have been manipulated to promote trendy causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism.

It means 'educational apartheid' is now opening up between state and independent schools, where academic content has been retained.

The assault on the curriculum comes in a subject-by-subject critique titled The Corruption of the Curriculum, which was written for the right-leaning Civitas by seven teachers and academics.

'Teachers are expected to help to achieve the Government's social goals instead of imparting a body denied pupils study through 24 different of academic knowledge to their students,' it says.

It came as the General Teaching Council demanded the scrapping of testing for under-16s. There are fears that youngsters are being drilled to pass exams at the expense of deeper learning.

The Government rejected the call - and yesterday it also dismissed the Civitas report, claiming it was 'based on a profound misunderstanding of the national curriculum and modern teaching methods'.

According to the report, history has become so divorced from facts and chronology pupils are learning about it through works of fiction, such as Lord of the Rings.

Rather than learning about key personalities and landmark events, pupils study through 24 different politically-correct 'perspectives' including gender and ethnic diversity.

The most popular history syllabus in the country requires 15 and 16-year-olds to write about the September 11 atrocities in the United States from the point of view of terrorists, said Chris McGovern, director of the History Curriculum Association.

Writing in the report, he said the Government-backed Schools History Project invites pupils to study speeches by Osama bin Laden without balancing material from America.

In English, pupils are being denied the chance to study classic authors such as Spenser, Milton and Pope and are instead steered towards more 'relevant' writers, claimed Michele Ledda, an Italian who teaches English.

'The English curriculum has been changed beyond recognition, from the academic subject it once was, into an unsystematic, if not altogether incoherent, range of activities for the development of isolated skills,' he said.

Science is becoming a forum for debating issues such as abortion, global warming, GM crops and nuclear power, according to the report. One Gibb described the report as a 'devastating critique'.

'We've got to move away from the anti-knowledge, anti-intellectual approach of many education reformers who have been far too influential in the development of the curriculum over the last 20 years,' he said. …