LETTER:Teaching children the relative value of Schubert and Blur

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The Independent Online
From Mr William Moloney

Sir: If today's report of the remarks by Dr Nick Tate, the chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, is an accurate representation of what he was trying to say then I believe we have cause to be worried about the direction being given to education by those responsible for it.

I am not a teacher but have had children who have been through the system. I happen to agree with Dr Tate that Schubert's Ave Maria is "better" than Blur's latest hit and that Milton is better than Mills and Boon (the latter comparison being a completely false one).

However, I also recognise that these are pure prejudices. I would not dare to stand in front of a class of children and state them as facts, because although I think I might be able to justify my view I would have great difficulty denying a child the opportunity to justify an opposing view.

The skill teachers need is the ability to teach children how to make and defend their own judgements.

A child will find the experience of having what amounts to an unsubstantiated prejudice turned on its head in a carefully run debate with his or her peers far more telling than having a series of dogmatic statements about what is good and what is bad put out by the teacher.

Yours faithfully,

William Moloney

Bishop's Stortford,

Hertfordshire

7 February

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