Heading by two leading academics, the campaign raises concerns that we are simply teaching students to “pass exams blindly” and are not preparing them for life in the 21st century.
Professors Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas are trying to convince politicians of the merits of the seven Cs of a character curriculum – confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship – which they say are embraced by many other countries around the world.
They say this approach to our schools could “revolutionise the way children and young people are taught to think”.
The pair have set out their arguments in a new book, entitled Educating Ruby – a nod to the 1980s stage show and film Educating Rita.
While Rita battled against a class system’s attitudes to learning, Ruby is a student who wants to learn but feels that what she is being taught has little relevance to the skills she will need for the future – and so she becomes bored and disruptive. Despite being “intelligent and interesting”, she does badly in the current system.
Prof Lucas, who is director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester, said: “There are many Rubys in every classroom. Many of them are, or could be, high-achievers. But the education system as it stands is failing gifted pupils as much as it fails those with challenges.
“Teachers and parents are being left just as frustrated as the students. We have to find a way of helping all of the Rubys in our classrooms to flourish and succeed.”
The campaign attacks the “relentless test and exam pressure” and the “obsession with grades” in the current system and a culture that labels those who make mistakes as “failures”. It says that how students are taught is just as important as what they are taught.
The campaign also attacks the language many politicians use: “Loose talk about ‘standards and rigour’, ‘helping students to fulfil their potential’, ‘banishing mediocrity’ is imprecise and meaningless,” it states
Prof Claxton, an internationally renowned cognitive scientist, added: “Countries such as Finland, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand recognise that children have to be taught to think and work imaginatively in order to survive and flourish in the modern workplace, rather than just taught to pass exams blindly. That’s why these countries and others now focus on versions of the seven Cs.
“But the seven Cs don’t compute with politicians who measure in black and white targets and can only see as far as the next election.
“That’s why our children and students find themselves locked into a system which forces teachers to tick boxes rather than develop character and often squanders the talents of the bright young minds entrusted to it.”
A campaign website has now been launched and educators are being invited to contribute. It includes a call to action page with for how to raise concerns. Visit www.educatingruby.org CAPTION: Ruby revolution: The campaign warns that too many intelligent and interesting students are being disengaged by an education they do not see as relevant to their futures (Photo: iStock)