October 21, 2012 by lambethteachers
Just when we think it can’t get much sillier, Fran Abrams at the Guardian discovers Gove’s latest obsession (click here to read the article). This time it’s ED Hirsch’s plan to pump every American kid full of “essential cultural facts” – or rather the English version adapted by right-wing think tank Civitas.
This is just a sample of what Civitas thinks children should learn:
Rejkjavik, Brussels, Copenhagen, Amenhotep, Hatshepsus, Nefertiti, Ziggurat, Ishtar, Hammurabi, Eboracum, Mercia, Dal Riata, Aidan, Bede, Ken MacAlpin, Harold Godwinson, Roald Amundsen, Rosetta Stone, Ptolemaic Period, Lindisfarne Gospels, Odo, Monet, Hockney, Hogarth, Rego, tetrahedron, congruent, pictogram, nutrients, omnivores, circulatory system, nonconductive, igneous, sedimentary, Edison, Jenner, Pasteur… Fair enough, you say, but this is only Year 2!
There’s nothing wrong with gaining knowledge but demanding these long lists of facts from children so young will only lead to meaningless rote learning.
Why these and not others? Hirsch has been criticised for his elitist white Anglo male selection, so to avoid this accusation there is a light sprinkling of Africans and Asians in the Civitas version and even the odd poem by Mike Rosen.
Not to worry, these 6 year olds will already be really bright and have lots of knowledge to build on, because in Year 1 they’ll have learnt all seven continents, Simon de Montfort, Robert Walpole, Breughel, Miro, Hepworth, Pugin and (random woman) Jane Goodall.
These brilliant five year olds will understand that
- The barons of England forced King John to sign Magna Carta on 15 June 1215. This limited the power of the monarch.
- The Glorious Revolution of 1688 took place when James II was forced to flee after his failed attempt to overrule parliament.
- Robert Walpole achieved influence with George II and with the House of Commons. He became the most important minister in the Cabinet: the first Prime Minister.
They will be enriched by looking at the parts of the Palace of Westminster that Charles Barry and August Pugin designed, and study the science biographies of Joseph Banks, Jane Goodall and the Wright brothers… among a few thousand other things.
Has Gove ever met a six year old? Did he spend his sixth birthday reading the life of Walpole? Perhaps not. One day a new fact will be revealed – a Guardian obituary will inform us that the education minister from outer space didn’t have a navel.
PS You’ll find lots more to keep you awake at night at http://www.coreknowledge.org.uk/sequencetable.php
You can also find Michael Rosen’s response to Hirsch here.