Slow education and child-centred classes

Mary James on a key recommendation of the 2011 national curriculum review that was not pursued, Joan Lewis on 1970s teaching and Geoff Reid on merging state and private schools
Mike Grenier
‘How I wish that Mike Grenier would restrain his shudders at the thought of “child-centred education”,’ writes Mary James. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Peter Wilby gives his support to “slow education” as promoted by Mike Grenier (Eton master who wants pupils to learn very slowly, 13 August). A little-known fact is that Michael Gove’s expert panel for the national curriculum review in 2011, of which I was a member, also recommended “a focus on fewer things in greater depth”, and on “ensuring that all pupils have an appropriate understanding of key elements prior to moving on to the next body of content”. Unfortunately Gove and Nick Gibb took little notice of this key recommendation, derived from evidence from high-performing countries, when deciding the overloaded and unbalanced national curriculum that we now have. Our report is still available on the Department for Education website.
Mary James
Professor (retired), faculty of education, University of Cambridge

How I wish that Mike Grenier would restrain his shudders at the thought of “child-centred education”. As a teacher of young children in the 1970s, I find so much in common with his “slow education movement”, and wish that he would take a little time to understand the nature of learning through discovery at primary school level. It certainly wasn’t a free-for-all as he contemptuously suggests. Any skilful teacher at that time was ready to capitalise on the excitement she had engendered, leading children to learn more while interweaving essential skills into this process. The only difference might be that we presented the structure after the initial inspiration, and not before.
Joan Lewis
Saint-Étienne-de-Gourgas, France

Mike Grenier may be on to something. Many of us have long thought that the integration of private schools into the state system should be done gradually.
Geoff Reid
Bradford

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