England

Democracy at risk in education?
Merttens, R.  Open Democracy (28 May 2012)

Debate around English educational policy makers plans to adopt aspects of policy from Singapore, mostly due to Singapore’s continued and consistent performance in testing (especially Mathematics), abound.  Ruth Merttens, a professor of primary education and the Director of the Hamilton Trust, argues the importance of local and national context when looking to apply policy across borders and warns against the adoption of policy that undermine the strengths within the English approach to teaching and learning.  Regarding memorization, for example, she writes, “I and many others in education enthusiastically advocate both a greater emphasis on memorisation and rote-learning within the mathematics curriculum, and also for more time in the school day to be given to mathematics. However, we are aware that this focus on memory runs counter to prevailing cultural mores, where the need to ‘learn things by heart’ is increasingly diminished by the ubiquitous presence of hand-held and ever-accessible technology. Control of these cultural behaviours is not, alas, within the remit of schools.”

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