Writing for The Future of Languages, Education Forum member Shirley Lawes argues that the relationship between language and culture should sit at the centre of MFL teaching…

As we emerge from a year of mostly online teaching and much disruption, there is a great deal to reflect upon. There may be a strong temptation amongst Modern Foreign Languages teachers to consign the experience to the dustbin of history. But wait! Not before reflecting carefully over what has been learned from the experience both in terms of pedagogy and curriculum content, and to consider seriously whether a return to the pre-covid status quo is really the best way forward. 

Hopefully, one thing that has been learned is that there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching and the social setting of the classroom when it comes to teaching and learning a foreign language (and all other school subjects come to that). But our greater familiarity with and experience of using technology, however restricting it felt at the time, can be capitalised on rather than rejected.  How, at this critical juncture, might we begin to re-evaluate and possibly revise our vision of foreign languages in the school curriculum? The ‘covid experience’ of virtual school closure could be a break from the past that calls into question many aspects of language teaching, learning and curriculum content.  Besides many problems, this novel experience has thrown up opportunities to reflect upon and re-think the ‘normal’; to re-evaluate objectively what, how and why we teach what we teach and to think beyond prescribed content and examination specifications

Read the full article on The Future of Languages.

We’ve all heard how important 21st-century skills are meant to be for today’s students, says Harley Richardson in the Forum’s column for Teach Secondary magazine – but given current employment trends, they may be in for a rude awakening…

There’s a claim that’s been made every few months by Britain’s business leaders for as long as I can remember: ‘Schools and universities are failing to equip young people for the workplace!’

With lockdown now making young people’s employment prospects especially gloomy, there’s a heightened urgency to that message.

Many educationalists hold our knowledge-based education system responsible, claiming it produces unimaginative young people whose heads are filled with redundant facts.

The solution? Devote more energy to teaching young people transferable ‘21st-century skills’, such as creativity and problem solving, which can be applied to whatever problems the future holds in store.

Yet my experience on both sides of the recruitment fence suggests this paints a misleading picture of the modern world of work – one that teachers and students would be well-advised to ignore...

Read the full article on TeachWire.

The ‘racist’ uniform protests at Pimlico Academy have exposed teachers’ lack of authority, argues the Education Forum’s Gareth Sturdy in Spiked…

…why did matters escalate to a point where flags have been burned, police have been called, and the school stopped functioning and completely caved in? The reason is the steady ingress of the identitarian culture wars into schools, which distorts them away from education.

As spiked writer Alka Seghal-Cuthbert has commented, as adult authority in general is increasingly seen as negative, the role of the teacher has been transformed. This has emboldened pupils to challenge staff more routinely. It has also disoriented teachers themselves in relation to their job, so that they are much more likely to give ground to upstart kids.

Read the full article on Spiked.

Educator David J. Ferrero assesses the second edition of What Should Schools Teach?: Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth, edited by Education Forum members Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Alex Standish…

What Should Schools Teach? is a profoundly countercultural book. It is nonetheless a book by and for professional educators whose contributors bring epistemological sophistication, extensive pedagogical content knowledge and a strong grasp of their disciplines’ intellectual and institutional histories to the question posed by the book’s audacious title.

…[It] restores much needed sanity to debates about schooling’s purpose. It makes an excellent primer for aspiring teachers, will be of interest to parents and other interested laypersons, and should be mandatory reading for educational policymakers throughout the Anglophone world.

Read the full review on Areo.

Teachers at a school embroiled in a row over uniform rules which are claimed to discriminate against Muslim and black students have threatened industrial action and “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence” in its principal.

Scores of pupils at Pimlico Academy in Westminster, central London, chanted “we want change” and walked out of school early on Wednesday in protest against the school hierarchy. Police officers were seen at the school grounds during the protests.

The Education Forum’s Alka Sehgal Cuthbert told talkRADIO’s Ian Collins: “I’m not against a bit of protest in the right place… what we’re seeing here shows a deeper problem of adult authority, teachers authority in particular.”