The Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden. (Abhijeet Vardhan)


Stockholm syndrome is a name given to the way that hostages end up having sympathy and empathy for their captors.  In a teeny-tiny way, I think I’m going through something like it at school.

I never really got on with the GCSE science courses as they were from 2006 onwards.  They were made of little modules that had to stand independently, so ideas never really linked up.  Each module only really had one way of sequencing the ideas that made any sense at all.  You pretty much had to teach each module on the basis of spending one lesson on each line of the specification, then moving on to the next line.  Then, every 12 lines or so, you did a module test and moved on to something different.  All the published textbooks and schemes of work did the same sort of thing.  It was a bit dull, to be honest.

Anyway, those GCSEs are on the way out; the current year 10s will be the last cohort to do them.  We don’t know quite what’s replacing them yet, because the new specifications haven’t been finally approved.  That’s a bit of a challenge if you teach a 3 year GCSE course.  Technically, we’re teaching our year 9s a course that doesn’t exist yet.  It could be taken as a huge opportunity for freedom.  We could teach anything; as long as the choices are sensible, it’s bound to come in useful.

What we’ve ended up doing is taking the first few pages of the draft specification, spending one lesson on each line of the specification, then moving on to the next line.  Then, every 12 lines or so, doing a module test and moving on to something different.

That’s not the problem. Neither is it really a problem that the sample resources I’ve seen publishers produce look like they are sticking to the same old model.

The problem is that I’m secretly quite glad about that.  Having taught in this way for so long, the idea of making a judgement about what matters, what might be worth teaching is pretty scary.  Not being able to confidently say to my class “this is the content you need to know to get this grade” leaves me feeling a bit naked, however much I used to hate saying that.

For a while now, I’ve felt my teaching trapped into doing things I didn’t like/believe in.  Now some of those things have been taken away, and I sort of want them back.




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