Letter: Woodhead's targets

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In the current education debates one group is missing: those who as children actually experienced a rigid and structured educational system.

My schooldays spanned 1936-1949. At our state primary school we chanted tables in class and enjoyed the rhythms that led to mastery of those numbers and a surge of confidence when achieved.

Regular spelling tests were no more daunting than a quiz game, but with the bonus that we were mastering part of the adult world - which every child wants to do. Learning poems by rote was an enjoyable memory test. In the rows of a formal classroom we willingly assimilated basic subject knowledge and relaxation was provided by PE, reading periods, music and craft work. To the best of my knowledge none of my contemporaries were unhappy with the regime, strict though it was.

At a small, mixed-sex grammar school formal teaching continued, with regular tests in every subject and relentless attention to such fundamentals as accuracy of spelling and grammar. We looked forward to classes from good teachers: bad teachers were boring because they failed to create interest or add to our store of knowledge.

Together with my classmates at primary and secondary school I accepted the rigorous formal education without worry and I am sure we all enjoyed the satisfaction of acquiring a wide spread of knowledge.


Beverley, East Yorkshire