All through my teaching career I have watched the same old ‘new’ ideas go round and round. Take French as an example. When I was at school, French was drilled into you. Good old Whitmarsh served us well but it was hardly exciting or stimulating. Then we moved into an era when teaching grammar was considered bad and children learned entire phrases without truly understanding which bit of the sentence was what. Next came ‘using the target language’. All lessons had to be conducted using only French. The naughty pupil with the stink bomb at the back had to be disciplined in French and he had to give his excuses in French. If someone wanted to go to the toilet, they weren’t allowed to until they asked in the target language. Oh how the caretaker laughed, mopping up those puddles under chairs! Oh how the language of the children improved.
I want to go to the bog.
En français, Simon?
(shout) I want to go to the bog.
Non, parlez en français, Simon
If you don’t let me go to the f*****g bog I’ll p**s myself.
Happy days. Then suddenly, grammar became important again. Teachers everywhere wrung their hands, remembering how they used to do it ten years before.
So, this morning we hear of ‘new’ vocational education. With employer engagement and work experience and everything! I sit here crying at my laptop, remembering BTECs and NVQs, Diplomas, Connexions, City & Guilds, YOPs, ROSLA and ONCs and wondering how much money has been wasted reinventing the wheel, training staff and deceiving our children into believing they are doing a qualification which actually means something today and will still mean something in ten years or twenty years from now.