Drinking in the disused car park: are you up for Teenage Studies?

Teachers say Gove's reforms to the curriculum won't reflect teenage experience. But do we really want that?
  • @deborahross

If you ask me, Michael Gove’s plan to bring back a more traditional, 1950s form of education, with an emphasis on rote learning and the like, has not been welcomed by teachers who say it will “stifle creativity” and “will not reflect pupils’ experiences”.

Not reflect pupils’ experiences? Is this a concern, seriously? If it is, what would these teachers most wish to see? A GCSE in Teenage Studies? If so, I would like to propose the syllabus, as follows:

Rhetoric: This has always played a central role in the Western tradition, and will be dealt with at GCSE level by focusing primarily on the rhetorical question, a figure of speech in the form of a question that is actually asked in order to make a point. Starting from the required position of familiarity, questions students will be asked to consider, and practise endlessly, will almost certainly include: “Why isn’t there ever anything nice to eat in this house?” Many pupils may even discover they have a natural gift for this.

Food Skills: Examiners will be looking for dirty dishes, banana skins, pizza crusts and toast crusts scattered throughout the house, as well as the ability to wreck the kitchen simply by cooking pasta. Any teenager who can somehow get sauce on the ceiling may well be fast-tracked as a potential A* student. Similarly, any teenager who bites the cheese straight from the fridge or eats a four-pack of yoghurt in one sitting, without separating the pots, will be considered Oxbridge material.

Social Skills: All students will have it drummed into them that their social life is paramount, and if they are forced to miss a party because they have to go to Grandma’s on a Saturday night then, yes, they may as well be dead.

Fashion: Although, in the first year, all pupils will be expected to display an obsessive interest in Topshop/Topman it is hoped that, with the correct guidance, they will be looking more towards Urban Outfitters and Zara by year two.

Drinking In The Disused Car Park: Students will learn not only how to drink in the local disused car park, but will also develop the skills to drink in any disused car park anywhere in the world. Also, any student deemed to have a natural ability for car-park drinking will be given the opportunity to move up to unbranded, supermarket vodka. However, there will be no opportunities to explore fine wines.

I believe such a syllabus will not only adequately reflect pupils’ experiences, but will also boost their self-esteem via high grades. It’s such a win-win, I now don’t understand why Mr Gove can’t see it.