Progressive Teaching Methods Have Fuelled Rise In Poor Discipline And Bad Behaviour States England School Behavior Expert

Progressive Teaching Methods Have Fuelled Rise In Poor Discipline And Bad Behaviour States England School Behavior Expert
Progressive teaching methods have fuelled the rise in poor discipline, the Government’s bad behaviour tsar has said. Tom Bennett, who has been appointed by ministers to head up a taskforce into bad behaviour at schools, said that for several decades the issue has been “swept under the carpet”.

In his first interview since his appointment, he said progressivism - the dominant ideology in education which became popular in the 1960s and 70s - has led to low level disruption going unchallenged.

“There was a massive assumption that children would behave if you simply planned lessons correctly, if you allowed them to do lots of independent work, project work, group work and so on, and that these teaching methods would create great behaviour” he told The Telegraph.

“I think that the failure of these methods to automatically create great behaviour has resulted in a lot of people in the education system pretending behaviour wasn’t an issue.”

Traditional teaching methods include “direct instruction”, where a teacher stands at the front of the class and presents information, drilling, where pupils repeat words or phrases after the teacher, and memorisation.

But these methods have been phased out in favour of the progressive “child-centred” learning methods, where the emphasis is on keeping students interested by allowing them to learn from each other rather than exclusively taking instruction from the teacher. This approach may involve asking students to work together in small groups, discuss issues among themselves and express their opinion. Child-centred methods have also been characterised as allowing pupils to proceed at their own pace and make discoveries independent of the teacher.

“Progressivism rests on the idea that children want to behave and they want to learn, the teacher needs to step back and allow the child to explore their natural curiosity, which will motivate them and keep them engaged,” Mr Bennett said.

But this relies on an  “overly optimistic view” of human nature that “fails to take into account the difficulties some children face", he said. While this approach may work well for middle class children, the same cannot be said for their peers from more disadvantaged households who may have not been taught how to behave by their parents, Mr Bennett explained.

“Some children come to school with loads of social skills, they’ve been taken to museums, taught how to shake someone’s hand and say hello,” he said.

“But if you are used to shouting out to be heard, no one has ever taught you how to wait your turn or share, you’re not going to change suddenly in a classroom. You wouldn’t think that is wrong, you would think that is normal.”

He said that these children need “support, they need really clear boundaries, and they need to be taught good behaviour too”.

Trying to use progressive teaching techniques for all children, regardless of their background, is a “very good way to maximising misbehaviour”, he said. Read...

James Koroma