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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.

What Should Schools Teach? Disciplines, subjects and the pursuit of truth – edited by Education Forum members Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Alex Standish as part of UCL Press’s Knowledge and the Curriculum book series – is now available in an expanded second addition.

In a special webinar to celebrate its publication, contributors Cosette Crisan, Michael Reiss, Christine Counsel, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Simon Toyne outlined the thinking behind their chapters, and UCL Professor of Curriulum Zongyi Deng responded with his thoughts on the book’s contribution to current educational discourse.

The video of the discussion can be seen on the UCL website.

Some quotes from Ian Mitchell’s review of the expanded second edition of What Should Schools Teach? (UCL Press, 2021), which was edited by Education Forum members Alka Seghal Cuthbert and Alex Standish.

‘…Seghal Cuthbert and Standish, aided by their team of subject experts, inject a healthy blend of cerebral intellect, classroom experience, and plain common sense into the curriculum debate. The well-researched content makes the contributors worthy of attention, with more than enough expertise to warrant moments of candour. There is no getting away, for instance, from the title’s implied meaning: what schools should be doing is not necessarily what they are doing.’

‘…if freed from the shackles of instrumental policies, teachers could even find themselves united by a simplicity of purpose, namely a moral, aesthetic and epistemological model of teaching and learning…’

‘If there is a common thread within the subject chapters, it is the need to understand and appreciate each discipline’s inherent value. Academic subjects are at best conservative (with a small ‘c’) in that they must conserve their discipline’s intrinsic value. It is a point made explicitly by Physics specialist, Gareth Sturdy (although it is echoed implicitly elsewhere): ‘we need to find, or re-find, what is truly unique about what we do, not only within the discipline but within the whole school, and have a robust faith in its intrinsic worth’.

Read the full review on the Secondary Ideas blog.

Gareth Sturdy was interviewed recently for David Didau’s and Martin Robinson’s podcast, It’s Your Time You’re Wasting!, about the second edition of What Should Schools Teach? (UCL Press, 2021) which features contributions from various Education Forum members. Gareth explains how the book can help teachers answer the eternal question ‘why I should I learn this?’.

The interview begins 22 minutes in, or you can subscribe to the podcast to watch the full 40 minute discussion and enter a raffle to win a free copy of the book.