powerful knowledge

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Where we’re getting curriculum wrong Part 2: Powerful knowledge

2020-04-04T17:00:00+01:00December 12th, 2019|curriculum|

In part 1 of this blog series I discussed the importance of cultural capital, where we might be getting it wrong, what it consists of, and how to resolve the problem of 'dead white men'. Where we're getting 'powerful knowledge' wrong While we can make a case that all knowledge is precious, not all knowledge is equally precious. In Bringing Knowledge Back In, education professor Michael Young advanced the idea of ‘powerful knowledge’. In Young's view, knowledge is powerful if it fulfils a number of characteristics. It should: provide reliable explanations and a sound basis for making judgements and generalisations about [...]

A broad and balanced approach to English teaching and the curriculum

2018-06-29T18:30:54+01:00June 29th, 2018|English|

Having launched a stream of invective against the use of 'balance' as a weasel word in my last post, I want to offer a more nuanced take on what I think balance ought to mean. I see the purpose of a curriculum as being to introduce students to that knowledge which will be of most use to them in academic contexts and to allow them to have the maximum amount of choice in what goals they choose to pursue in life. All skills are activated by knowledge and - if we want students to be creative, intellectually curious and productive - [...]

The problem with dead white men – a reply to Mary Bousted

2018-06-09T01:08:56+01:00June 9th, 2018|Featured|

Apparently, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union has announced that England is “hurtling forward to a rosy past” with its emphasis on knowledge. She is reported as having said the following: As an English teacher, I have no problem with Shakespeare, with Pope, with Dryden, with Shelley. ... But I knew in a school where there are 38 first languages taught other than English that I had to have Afro-Caribbean writers in that curriculum, I had to have Indian writers, I had to have Chinese writers to enable pupils to foreshadow their lives in the curriculum.” If a [...]

Teaching to make children cleverer – Part 3

2018-01-10T15:11:02+00:00January 10th, 2018|curriculum|

As discussed in Part 1 of this series of posts, it seems probable that the best way to use education to increase children's cognitive capacities is to increase the quantity and the quality of what they know. In Part 2 I discussed ways we might increase the quantity of what of what children know about the world, and in this post I want to explore how we might go about selecting what to teach with an eye for quality. Any attempt to discuss improving the quality of children's knowledge will be, inevitably, subjective and partial, but every effort ought to be made to reduce [...]