Our debt to Haddow

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The older I get, the more bizarre my dreams seem to be.  The other night I dreamt that I had a tube of bread mix which, when squeezed out and put into a hot oven, turned after baking into a copy of the 1931 Haddow Report on primary schools.  A follow-up dream revealed that there was also a granary version of this mix but it still produced Haddow.  Maybe the granary version was the 1933 report on infant and nursery schools.  I wasn't wide awake enough to take note.

I had not thought of the Haddow Report for years so where all this came from is, as often with a dream, something of a mystery.  It's undoubtedly the case, however, that we all benefitted from Haddow.  In many ways it can be seen as a fore-runner of the 1967 Plowden Report Children and their Primary Schools which promoted child-centred education and was much criticised by traditionalists in the 1980s Black Papers.

The 1931 report argued that "a good school is ... not a place of compulsory instruction, but a community of old and young, engaged in learning by cooperative experiment" and that "the curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored".

It made over 70 recommendations.

The Black Papers, which I keep close to hand, we’re onto something, however, when they argued that access to knowledge is important especially for those youngsters whose homes and families do not open such doors.  After all, if neither schools nor homes do this, who will?  Social media?  Please!  As ever, the end of the rainbow is a place where a happy mix of experiences, opportunities, and awareness is to be found.

As all good primary schools know.

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