In England during the 1960s and 70s teachers had a great deal of autonomy with respect to the curriculum, methods of teaching and evaluation of students. However the school reforms of the 1980s changed all that. Now the central government specifies not only the syllabus for English and maths but the methods for teaching them in primary schools “down to the level of sections of each hour-long daily lesson”. For example the National Numeracy Strategy, which was implemented in all primary school classes in 1999/2000, included:
In the US, the imperatives of high stakes testing are leading to increased use of learning drills and scripted lessons that train students to be able to answer test questions. Learning drills and scripted lessons involve direct teacher command and controlled student responses. They punish student spontaneity, eliminate humour, laughter and fun, and formalise student interactions.
Teachers across the map complain that the joy is being drained from teaching as their work is reduced to passing out worksheets and drilling children as if they were in dog obedience school. Elementary “test prep” classroom methods involve teachers snapping their fingers at children to get responses, following scripted lessons where they simply recite prompts for students…
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