Following hearing of the appointment of Annaliese Briggs, 27, as headteacher of Pimlico Primary academy I tried to find out what she could have done to be promoted so far so quickly. All the people justifying it suggested that it was her work with Civitas on the curriculum, inspired by Ed Hirch and the ocntent rich curriculum which apparently had influenced young Mr Gove and Lord Nash to a great extent. I researched further on the civitasd page and found they had prepared specific books based on these theories for the little nippers. Sadly, I took issue with the extracts provided on the site and emailed Civitas for an explanation as follows:
"Sent:10 September 2013 21:42 To:'email@example.com' Subject:Inaccuracies
I have just read these two pages on your website as examples of teaching materials for “core knowledge” for the first year or primary school. As a parent of a child shortly to go to primary school I am extremely concerned that the first page is muddled, inaccurate and also has clearly not been proof-read. The second page (Kings and Queens) is riddled with inaccuracies and is frankly a travesty of English history written by someone who clearly has a shaky grasp of the same. I should say that my memory of being taught where I live and countries and continents (from the 60s) was considerably more factually accurate and less judgment laden – and the history, while oriented towards British history, was factual and has stood me in good stead in critiquing those, such as your history writer, who appears not to know any.
Please explain to me how you think it is legitimate to teach this to children (of any age). If you want me to go through line by line with you then I am happy to meet you to do so.
Despite sending it again when I got no reply I have still had no reply. Does anyone else know if this is the kind of rubbish my child will be being force fed as content poor core ignorance? Has anyone else come across it already being taught? Is anyone checking this stuff before it gets pumped into schools? Or will I have to do a corrective class every evening (with references, natch)?
Hideous isn't it. I think even my 4yr old would be embarrassed on the teacher's behalf if that was read out to him. Plus he would want to know where Ollie Cromwell and Charles's head fitted in with the occasional disagreements. Hand it over to the Horrible Histories crew and let them get on with it. Though he might be slightly biased as his second word was Patchacuti (?sp).
That geography page is not just slightly wrong is it? Whoever wrote it doesn't seem to have any grasp of the differences between England, Republic of Ireland, NI, Scotland, Wales, GB, Ireland or UK and which of those are political and which are geographic.
I did post a slightly longer than I expected rant about Civitas' Core Knowledge UK curriculum the other week. I think included placing the unit on the changing role of the monarchy in year 1 in it. Looking at that page at least I can see how they though they were going to do it. That's confused me and my knowledge of British history isn't bad and I know what the content objectives are.
The good news is, this isn't the new national curriculum or anything like it. I don't know how widely it is known about, but I suspect not widely. My guess is that it is only likely to be taught in a handful of free schools. It should be corrected though.
Damn! I wanted to start a campaign but if this isn't being taught then it is not worth it. I understood that Govey considered all of this was the next move (BTW the content is consistent with complaints about Hirsch inspired content in USA - it is someone's particular content).
I don't actually have a problem with content-rich education so long as it is accurate content. My problem is that I don't quite understand how you can teach anybody anything with no content as appears to be the belief of Hirsch et al. You should read his great insight which accoridng to wiki is:
"During the late 1970s, while giving tests of relative readability at two colleges in Virginia, he discovered that while the relative readability of a text was an important factor in determining speed of uptake and comprehension, an even more important consideration was the reader's possession—or lack of—relevant background knowledge."
Genius. I wish someone had made me (and paid me) a professor for saying that if you knew what the text was about you would be able to read it more easily.
On history - one of the things i wanted to ask civitas was to name a single king or queen who was good and wise by modern standards. As none of them were famed for their belief in democracy, or taxation benefitting the majority (or even a large minority), or even non-execution of traitors (democrats), I was fairly sure I was on a winner...