Letter: What the curriculum fails to teach

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Sir: Your coverage of the proposals for the English curriculum (3 February) makes no mention of a disturbing omission.

One of the more forward-looking aspects of Kenneth Baker's original brief to Professor Cox's working party which drafted the current curriculums was that English teachers should be required to take cognisance of the role of the media in their pupils' lives. According to a report in the Times Educational Supplement (29 January) - possibly influenced by recent unsubstantiated ministerial claims that pupils are now studying soap operas instead of Shakespeare - all references to audio-

visual media have now been removed from the draft revisions.

Given the minimal nature of the present requirement - which is merely that pupils should learn to distinguish fact from fiction in 'media texts' and to evaluate techniques of presentation - it is quite extraordinary that the Government's advisers should think it necessary to remove it.

A modern society should surely be concerned to ensure that its future citizens can participate fully in the democratic process and share in the national culture: television, radio and cinema are the predominant means by which this can be achieved. By excluding these media from education, children will effectively be taught that they don't matter. It is to be hoped that the National Curriculum Council will not be so blind as to approve such a retrograde step.

Yours faithfully,

WILF STEVENSON

Director

British Film Institute

London, W1

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