This morning I woke to find approximately 7,000 notifications regarding a screen grab I’d posted. It was a lesson idea for using Pokémon in a history classroom: “create a timeline that shows the history of Pokémon and the Pokémon games.” All sorts of discussions ensued, although these three caught my eye:
- The task is about chronology, so what’s the problem?
- I’m an Ofsted rated “Outstanding” teacher and I’ve taught this way for years (since deleted).
- Lesson content should be changed in tough schools.
Of these, it’s the last which is the most problematic. This idea, that certain children whose parents don’t have much money, or who didn’t have a great education themselves, or whatever it may be, that their education should be tailored to fit their current existence is unfair, elitist and completely at odds with comprehensive education. This idea, as Stuart Lock put, helps win the grammar school argument.
Why should a child from a council estate not have access to the best that has been thought and said? Why should a girl from the inner-city be funnelled on to the Health and Beauty course when she could be studying the intricacies of post-war Europe, or ontological arguments for the existence of God? Why does a boy from a farm in rural-nowhere have to settle for the evolution of a computer game, which he might not care for anyway, when he could be learning to play the piano, or reading HG Wells? We can either treat these children like idiots, assuming naivety and dull-headedness, or induct them into the conversation of mankind.
Engagement comes from the subject itself, not the pedagogy in which it’s parcelled.