Shawn – no relation to me as I am Shaun – argues that that there may be a case to try to remove the constraint of a syllabus and allow pupils to spend more time projects and in-depth investigation.
I remember reading about a similar scheme to abolish class schedules years ago when A.S. Neill was writing about Summerhill. Children could choose if they wanted to work or play. If they did opt to work they could choose what they wanted to do! As a young teacher this was vastly appealing to me. We had to hand in our schedule for the week to our Head Teacher, Mr W.W. Wilson, every Friday before break. I used to take the school, of 600 pupils, for singing for an hour after Friday's assembly – which allowed the rest of the staff time to write their lesson plan for the week. At the Extra Tuition Centre lesson plans are now generated by our computer based program called Action. Progress!
Summerhill is the name of a small school – but it signified a great experiment in education. Neil, who did not pull any punches, talked about a pupil – Moroslava – who did not respond to him.
“Well,” 1 said pleasantly (Neil speaking), “I didn’t help you very much.”
“Do you know why?” she said with a dry smile. “I’ll tell you. The first day I came to your school, I ws making a box. You said I was using too many nails. From that moment, I knew that you were like every other school master in the world – a boss.”
When I look at some eleven plus children working through eleven plus papers I often wonder if the nails I am supplying are sharp enough to help the child break through the eleven plus yoke!