Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The QI vision of education

Dare to Know points us to an article from last week's Sunday Times by Tom Hodgkinson, the editor of The Idler.

It quotes the prescription for education of John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, the authors of the QI books. I can take or leave the QI television programme, but this strikes me as spot on:

One: play not work

Schools should be resource centres, not prisons. Teachers should be returned to their original roles as facilitators, not bureaucrats or drillmasters. The more “work” resembles play – telling stories, making things – the more interested kids will become.

Two: follow the chain of curiosity

Ask a kid what he wants to learn, and he’s unlikely to say: “a broad-based curriculum that offers the core skills”. Real learning is obsessive. It happens through watching, listening and practising something that really interests you. Encourage children to follow their own curiosity right to the end of the chain, and they will acquire the skills they need to get there.

Three: you decide

The QI School isn’t compulsory and there are no exams: only projects or goals you set yourself with the teacher acting as a mentor. This could be making a film or building a chair. From age seven onwards, our core subjects might be: philosophy, storytelling, music, technology, nature and games.

Four: no theory without practice

If you’re lost in wonder looking at, say, a lettuce, you will want to have a go at growing it, too.

Five: you never leave

There is no reason why school has to stop dead at 17 or 18. The QI school would be the ultimate “lifelong learning” venue – a mini-university where skills and knowledge would be pooled and young and old could indulge their curiosity.

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