Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Children can’t think if they don’t learn facts - Telegraph

Children can’t think if they don’t learn facts - Telegraph

"When future generations come to study the causes of Britain’s global decline, Exhibit A will be a letter in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, signed by 100 academics from across the country. In it, the various professors attacked Michael Gove’s proposed national curriculum for consisting of “endless lists of spellings, facts and rules”. My God, the madness! Sometimes the Education Secretary must wake up in the morning and wonder whether it’s all worth the struggle. His opponents are of such a deep strain of perverse idiocy that it is impossible to argue with them – ideology has defeated reason.". . . How can you have a worthwhile thought about governments and constitutions if you don’t know your kings, queens and prime ministers? How can you think up a new mathematics theorem if you’ve never learnt your 12-times table? If you don’t know anything, you end up like the poor fool in Philip Larkin’s poem “Ignorance”: “Strange to know nothing, never to be sure / Of what is true or right or real, / But forced to qualify 'or so I feel’, / Or 'Well, it does seem so: / Someone must know.’ ” . . .Needless to say, none of this wicked, anti-learning philosophy makes its way into private schools, where learning spellings, facts and rules – often by rote – remains sacrosanct. Surprise, surprise, British private schools are rated the best in the world, while our state schools don’t even limp into the top 20 for reading. You do the maths – if you’ve been lucky enough to have been taught any.Private schools impose the rigorous learning of facts, from which pupils extrapolate to produce thought. Most state schools don’t, because they’ve been riddled with the ignorance-is-good philosophy cooked up by muddle-headed educationalists for the past 50 years.Last year, I gave a talk on Latin and the Romans in Britain to a state primary school in north London. Few of the seven-year-olds, although bright and eager to learn, had heard of Latin. A week later, I gave a similar talk to seven-year-olds in an upmarket prep school in Notting Hill.“Now, when do you think the Romans came to Britain?” I asked, in a super-slow, easy-to-understand way. “It depends,” said one girl, sitting in the front row with her hand in the air. “Do you mean Julius Caesar’s invasions in 55 and 54 BC? Or Claudius’s in 43 AD?”Which class do you think had been forced to learn by rote? Which class will end up providing the doctors, lawyers – and thinkers – of the next generation?


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