The counterculture class warrior who turned to Gove

Teaching knowledge, Michael FD Young wrote in his influential 70s book, is a ruling-class construct. Not any more, it seems Education’s knowledge wars – fought around what schools should teach children – began nearly half a century ago with three sociologists chatting in the bar of London’s Russell Hotel. Social scientists, they agreed, concentrated too much on the “deficit model” of education: why working-class children “failed” at school and how they could be brought up to standard. But what if the fault lay not in the children, or their homes, but in what they were taught? What if the “deficit” was in the curriculum and what schools counted as “knowledge”? What if the “less able” had different but not inferior abilities that schools failed to recognise? What if their parents, despite not owning books, had “everyday” knowledge – of gardening or interior decoration, say – that was as valuable as what schools deemed to be knowledge? Continue reading...

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