Just in case you haven’t seen this amusing little satire on Michael Gove’s attack on history teaching, follow the link below. As usual, instead of engaging with the substance of the many criticisms of his proposed History curriculum, Gove tries to rubbish the practitioners by suggesting they have ‘dumbed down’ the subject by teaching about Hitler via the Mr Men. If this were true, of course, he’d have a point but — you guessed it — it’s not true. The truth, often inconvenient to this as to so many politicians, is that those teaching the relevant module on the iGCSE course will have taught for twelve weeks and had the students write a 1000 word essay. As a means of revising, the students are then asked to use the ‘Mr Men’ to re-teach the ideas and concepts to a much younger group of students.
This technique is very popular and thought by many educationalists to be an excellent way of embedding and testing understanding. A year or two back I heard the education guru Alistair Smith speak and amongst the many good practical suggestions he gave was the idea of the ‘Lazy Teacher’ Day when students take over the teaching. Of course, despite its name, it’s actually more work for the teacher but the kids love it and colleagues report it is a very good way of encouraging understanding as well as promoting self-confidence, literacy and oracy. Just don’t let Mr Gove know: he’s sure to pick up the title only and use it as one more stick with which to beat a beleaguered teaching profession.