Thursday, November 22, 2007

First Aid in English

I was chatting to my husband recently about the sad state of primary education - too much testing, too much pressure, no time for creativity or learning by doing, a concentration on literacy basics but no time to read the children a story at the end of the day and give them a passion for stories and reading...and too many other problems to mention here. Eventually we moved on to talking about when we were at primary school in the fifties.

We lived in different places and went to different schools but we both had to work from a book called First Aid in English. I can't speak for the current edition, but in the one I worked from, students were taught standard similes. We weren't taught what a simile was, and then encouraged to make up our own. No, we had to finish the simile they printed on the page, as in As white as... As black as... As cold as ... and so on... If you didn't get the answer right (respectively snow, soot, ice) then you didn't get a mark. How sad is that? How unimaginative, dull and constraining is that?

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