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May 15, 2003
Why the Trads are ruled by the Progs

Education "experts", i.e. people with strong opinions about education for people other than themselves and their own children, can be divided roughly into "progressives" and "traditionalists", Progs and Trads. Progs rule the roost. Trads probably speak for the average punter far more accurately, yet the Trads seem to get nowhere. Why is this?

Speculation: Progs were people who were bored at school. Trads were more likely to have been confused, or else to have been teatering on the edge of confusion and grateful for whatever shafts of clarity they were offered. Progs knew what was going on at school; they just had trouble paying attention to it. Progs would have preferred to decide their own syllabus, and would have had no difficulty doing that. After all, they basically understood most of the stuff that was being chucked at them by their teachers, and would have been able to embroider, subtract and add to that syllabus with ease and confidence.

Progs dominate education "theory", ever since education theory set itself in motion in the form of teacher training colleges and university education departments and in the form of books about education. And why do they do that? Because they basically did well at school, in among being bored by it. Come the exams, they knew what to do.

Meanwhile, Trads dominate the general public. The public mostly wants teachers to teach, and to teach the 3Rs, to obedient lines of well-behaved kids in desks. The public was mostly confused at school, and they know that if they had managed to be less confused either by better teachers or by them paying more attention or both, their lives would have gone better. Insofar as they too were bored, their cure for school boredom is for kids to shape up the way they should have, and to be made to shape up, and for teachers to teach better, and above all to teach more clearly and accurately.

But of course, they were confused when exam time came around, and so they never got to be education experts.

The above speculation was provoked by reading Chris Woodhead's book Class War. Woodhead was a classic bored at school, but nevertheless successful at school Prog. But as he immersed himself in the problems of the Confused Classes, he moved over to being a Trad.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:55 PM
Category: Education theory

A fascinating speculation...

Comment by: Jim on May 17, 2003 02:38 PM
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