Archive for September, 2008

We (heart) LEGO

There’s not much else to say really. Audrey LOVES Lego. It started innocently enough, a visit to Legoland back in June and a couple of boxes from the big shop on the way out. Then I made the mistake of buying a tipper truck with trailer (on offer in Woolies) and there was no turning back. Off the top of my head she’s since added a police car, police motor bike, coast guard truck with speed boat, ambulance, container stacker and fire truck not to mention several little people and one dog from the community workers pack. Now I’ve got to put up another shelf!

The National Curriculum as Intellectual and Cultural Monoculture

An analogy occurred to me today. The National Curriculum as Intellectual and Cultural Monoculture. The aim of the NC is to ensure that an entire generation learns basically the same things, the same bits of history, the same poems, the same books, the same everything. In biology monocultures are ticking time bombs, the lack of genetic variety makes them extremely vulnerable to pests, diseases and changes in the environment. That’s why sexual reproduction is such a success, mixing up the genes every generation makes the whole population more robust not to mention occasionally producing really useful new traits. It’s one of the engines of evolution and without it (or an alternative method of exchanging genetic material) you’re looking at a short future.  

Now think of knowledge and ideas as the cultural equivalent of DNA. It seems to me that a society where one person studied the philosophies of Aristotle, the next Nietzsche and a third The Simpsons might be a little bit more interesting and have a more healthy mix of ideas than one where everyone was required to study Descartes. If we’re meant to learn from history then a population which in total has studied all of it is likely to avoid repeating mistakes better than one where everyone half remembers the same small bits. How can our children come to appreciate a wide variety of art, literature and music when they are force fed the same limited selection or ‘approved ‘classics’? People are different, our tastes are different, not everyone is going to enjoy Shakespeare and nor should they, not that being required to study set scenes is exactly designed to inspire a love of The Bard in any case. An educational polyculture not only offers a more interesting society to live in but also one much better able to adapt to a changing world.

Well, just a thought :-)

No School Today

Today would have been the first part day at the local Primary school. Instead we mainly just puttered about, Audrey did a few pages of some TV character workbooks, we found pictures for a sheet of things with NG in them (Langur Monkeys is a bit of a stretch but you try it some time) and in the afternoon it was Fun & French. Somehow I thought it would feel different … but no, just another day, nothing special.