Progressively Worse or Traditionally Worse Part II

So, the book which I mentioned in my previous blog post has been released and has, unsurprisingly, caused a flurry of posts and discussions. I’ve been thinking about this a little more and am really seeing both sides to this argument:

Child-centred Learning
Traditionalists seem to believe that this is a joke and teacher-based ‘knowledge’ lesions are the way to go. Now, correct me if I’m wrong…but who are we teaching? Children. Who’s learning is it? The children’s! In my relatively shallow perusals of each side of the discussion I’m finding myself agreeing with a lot more of the traditional views than I thought. However, I find it very hard to reject the value of child-centred learning – perhaps not child-led (as pointed out the difference) but child-centred. Teaching a class of children a concept based on what they have previously understood to progress them…child-centred! Surely the most vehement traditionalist would accept that if their class has not understood a concept they would reinforce it? They are engaging in child-centred learning!

This is a biggie! Traditional vs Progressive. Not one toe out of line vs let’s analyse why I as the teacher failed my student to cause this outburst. The sad and obvious truth is that behaviour is poor, generally, across Britain’s schools, no matter what Ofsted state. I believe if they were as overgrading on everything else as they are behaviour, it would cause a lot less stress to the teaching profession. Discipline has to improve. Whilst I do believe that a lot of cases of behaviour issues can be resolved by an engaging curriculum, there are times that quite frankly, children just don’t want to cooperate. Yes there’ll be reasons but sometimes that’s life, they need to behave. I have a 20 month old son. When it came to him going into his own room, we like all parents, struggled with how to cope with his crying for us. The solution pretty much everyone gave us? Let him cry it out. He’ll learn. We did, and he sleeps almost from 7:30pm to 7am with only a couple of awakenings which just require a 2-3 min soothing from one of his parents. Why are we so reluctant to deal so with school children? OK, I’m not talking about letting them cry in a room or even corporal punishment (no way)! But children can take responsibility for their own behaviour, and are expected to at home. Is it because we are not their parents? Perhaps. However I feel a better collaboration (which ironically I’ve found coined more with progressive views than traditional) between teacher and parent, not just on learning but behaviour, would be beneficial.

Teacher Input
This is, I think, one of the most grey areas of the debate, in my own opinion. Ironically, despite my positive views toward child-centred learning, when I taught my first observed lesson in a KS2 class I was commented on top have spent too much time speaking. ‘Chalk-and-talk’ as my school tutor called it, not derisively as he then commented ‘not that wasn’t effective in the past’. I’ve been looking at Ofsted reports a lot recently in searching for a job and I’ve noticed the more recent reports (the past year) stating that in some schools the teachers speak for too long. Here is a clear branch of progressive education coming out. The reason I say it’s a grey area for me is this: surely the amount you speak for as the teacher will depend greatly on the lesson. If you’re teaching a specific skill, you may speak more than when you are introducing a topic and allowing children to explore some source material, or ask some questions about the topic.

As with all my posts, there will be things I’ve not mentioned. I’m starting to get the impression that this debate may be a case of whether is ‘more progressive’ or ‘more traditional’…


photo credit: crypto via photopin cc


2 thoughts on “Progressively Worse or Traditionally Worse Part II

  1. When people object to “child centred” teaching or education (not learning) they do not mean that the child is irrelevant. That is a straw man position that nobody believes. “Child centred” is a name progressives gave themselves to describe their philosophy and practices. If people object to “child-centred” education they are objecting to that philosophy and those practices, not to concern for the interests of children. And I would consider that point fairly obvious.


  2. I appreciate that comment – it is good to get more informed on these matters.
    Whether you consider that point fairly obvious or not, I’m grateful for your views on the matter. As you may or may not know, I’m just about to start my journey full-time in the classroom and, whilst I can try to learn as much as I can at my initial teacher training institution, it is clear to me I’ve only scratched the surface of the wider issues of education – issues which have, in some cases, been going on for decades.


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