In a speech delivered Tuesday, Education secretary Michael Gove believes UK pupils should learn from a robust “core knowledge” of information and facts instead of “vapid happy talk” so that they are ensured of a structured “stock of knowledge”. These principles underlie his plans for putting forth new curricula for English primary and secondary schools, which are expected to be published shortly.
Mr Gove argues that young students need to be taught core sets of information in subjects ranging from science to culture and history in order for them to better understand and engage with the dynamic world they live in.
In a BBC news report, below are the key areas that will be taught in core subjects for the planned new curriculum:
- Mathematics lessons will teach “early memorisation of tables, written methods of long division and calculations with fractions”
- Science subjects will make pupils aware of “the scientific principles and laws which drive proper understanding of the natural world”
- English lessons will enhance pupils’ “grammar and punctuation, clarity on the essentials of clear composition and a requirement for proper knowledge of pre-20th-Century literature”
- History lessons will discuss “a clear narrative which encompasses British and world history, with space for study of the heroes and heroines whose example is truly inspirational”
- Geography subjects will provide practical skills on “proper locational knowledge with an understanding of how to use maps and locate rivers and oceans, cities and continents”
- Language studies will have “a clear emphasis on the importance of translation – including the study of literature of proven merit”
Young people will need to have a thorough understanding of basic knowledge before they can begin to develop and make arguments relating to other ideas. This historical, cultural, scientific and mathematic knowledge will help them understand such widely used resources of knowledge nowadays as search results produced by Internet search engines. Mr Gove says that students not having this knowledge will find that Google search results are just “babble”.
The proposals have its fair share of critics. Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg called the ideas “backward-looking and narrow”. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers warned of a “reasonable middle ground” in placing accountability on schools, therefore avoiding the “chaos and disruption” that constant changes to the system bring.