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Since when did learning to read become a narrow pursuit?

Oh dear. The Pinko Professor’s at it again. Apparently, concentrating in Primary School in the UK on getting kids to be able to read and write restricts them too much, and doesn’t ‘develop’ them enough as individuals.

Well Professor, how are kids going to be able to learn anything at all if they can’t read and write? It’s people like you who ruined two generations of kids with your liberal ideas of education. Spelling is these days appalling in some age groups – and I’m talking here about adults who went to school in the 1970s and ’80s.

Those were the times when it was unfashionable in teaching circles to correct mistakes of spelling in written work, when the spelling test faded into the background, when learning the times tables was no longer seen as relevant to modern needs and when, strangely, pupils began to lose respect for teachers. Spelling errors in any subject other than in English were foolishly over-looked.

Now I am not trying to say that school should consist entirely of spelling tests and reciting the times tables. Currently about 50% of school time is apparently spent on Maths, English and Science at the moment, but even that is too much for the Pinko Professor. He seems to be quite happy with a world in which you may have to read a report on the BBC News website because it contains so many spelling or grammatical errors the flow of the story is ruined as you try to work out the exact meaning of this or that sentence. Even the Head Teacher of my daughter’s school regularly makes spelling errors on the front cover of the school’s weekly newsletter.

No, Mr Alexander, I do not accept that is the way to go. The English language is too important in the world for that, and it is highly likely that at some point the English will cease to be the custodians of their own language because they are just so poor at it. Instead, the baton will be passed to some country for which English is only a second language – but they will still use it and spell it better than the English do now.

Still you have to feel sorry for him, attacking the UK educational system is the only way he can be noticed. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, he’s so unknown.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be so much against his weird ideas if at least one could feel secure in the knowledge that when learning about some other subject at least the spelling errors would be picked up and corrected. Except of course the teachers of today’s kids are themselves children of the failed policies of the last educational review of 40 years ago, and cannot themselves always spell correctly!


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