Should children or teachers be in charge of schools?

This Times Online article asks us to

IMAGINE A SCHOOL where the children decide what to learn and how to learn it, where the teachers act as facilitators, not instructors, and no one has to ask permission to go to the lavatory.

It’s a report on the work of Berry Mayall, professor of sociology at the Institute of Education in London. This isn’t new thinking – Summerhill espoused it decades ago; Notschool more recently and even more radically. And its’ the Notschool examples that triggers my concern about prof Mayall’s ideas.

Successful implementations of the ‘child in charge’ philosophy are very radical. I fear that an attempt to move conventional schools just a little bit in that direction will fall completely between two stools. Teachers won’t get behind it, children will get confused, chaos will ensue and and the sceptics will have a field day telling us they were right all along.

Perhaps its better to keep conventional schools as they are, but to make sure that the radical fringe is sufficiently funded that it can grow the demand for it is there?


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