The right stuff

At the risk of over simplifying things, don’t children go to school to learn stuff? Okay, that’s not the only reason, but can we agree that it is basically the point of school?

But what stuff should they learn?

Is it useful stuff (that will help them get a job), or relevant stuff (which they’ll find interesting)?

Is it powerful stuff (that will help them change the world), or cultural stuff (so no-one can tell they weren’t educated at Eton)?

Is it challenging stuff (pushing them out of their comfort zone), or accessible stuff (so their self-esteem remains intact)?

Is it stuff they need to pass exams, to get on to a better course, to get the university place at a Russell Group university (who offer them an unconditional place anyway), or stuff which edges them ahead of the other students wanting scarce Apprenticeship places?

And who decides which stuff they will learn? Does everyone in the country learn the same stuff, or is there particular stuff they need to learn in this part of the world? Should their teachers decide this stuff according to what they enjoy, what stuff they were taught and which text books can be found at the back of the classroom?

Once we’ve answered all these questions, we can start to consider how to get all this stuff in their heads. Along the way, we need to remind ourselves that learning stuff is the main thing, but not the only thing. These are human beings we’re stuffing, not teddy bears.

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