"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth

27 July 2019

Outside.


"One reads that teachers are much more circumscribed in what they can get children to do," says Pullman. "The children have to complete certain tasks in a particular way or they won’t get a particular mark, which goes toward a school’s place in the league tables."

Looking back to his own schooling – in the "Middle Ages", he laughs – he speaks with enthusiasm about having the time to experiment, the time to read outside the curriculum and the time to take part in drama.

"I don’t think that happens now," he laments. "There is so much pressure on kids to pass exams, and teachers have to cram every second of the day with curricular material. That is an awful imprisonment, a deprivation it seems to me.

"Concentrating on exams puts the burden of responsibility in the wrong place. It puts a burden of responsibility on the children. ‘You’ve got to pass this, or the school will go down in the league tables’. Well no. Children have to be educated and that means cultivating a wider understanding of things, a wider experience of things, without having to pass the test."

He adds: "It’s a pity that the system is such that teachers can’t say to their students, ‘why don’t you try this, it might not work, but it won’t matter because you will have learnt something.’"

"There’s got to be freedom for teachers, to try something different from the normal timetable," he says. "There’s got to be space and time in the curriculum, they mustn’t be hurried and harried and pressed and bullied and nagged and worried into doing things that they know are pointless or counterproductive."

Philip Pullman

CONNECT

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