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Getting off the subject: English, drama, media and the commonwealth of powerful culture

By Jonothan Neelands

Abstract

There is an old riddle that makes us teachers chuckle knowingly. Imagine that a train driver, a surgeon and a teacher fell asleep in 1908 and woke up to go to work in 2008. Which one of them would notice they had been asleep for a century? The same rows of chairs, the same mode of instruction in many cases, the same content and modes of assessment. The same power and powerlessness between teachers and learners over what is learnt , how it is learnt and how it is valued through assessment. Our early 20c teacher would wake to find that in many places what young people are taught as valuable and socially controlled knowledge is still comfortably organised into „subjects‟. And that of these subjects English, along with Science and Maths are the kings of the curriculum. \ud Over the sleeping century in the UK we have become naturalised into thinking that subjects are our only means of organising, delivering and assessing what young people learn about their worlds through schooling. Our children study the world through the frames of subjects and their success in later life will largely depend on their success in subject-based rather than real world-based learning. Primacy is given to achieving success in subjects rather than in a broader range of personal and social achievements and therefore to a curriculum which tends to isolate and reify the facts and figures from live(d) human experience

Topics: LB, PN2000
Publisher: Phoenix Education
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2724

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