Except in Northern Ireland where constructivist education zealots experimented on vulnerable pupils using an “enriched Curriculum” to ensure that “the rich got richer while the poor became poorer”. The experiment failed but the researchers escaped without censure.
What is most interesting in the latest statistics is that the boys who do worst are those in isolated, inward-looking, deprived working class communities.
The real reason, I suggest, for working class boys having lost almost all interest in education is that their two chief motivations for achievement were systematically removed from the primary school curriculum: competition and a clear sense of measurable, structured accomplishment.
So determined was the education establishment to ensure “equality” in the classroom, that it banned any reference to winners and losers, to high achievers and lower ones, to being the best or the poorest in any capacity. So the thing that spurred on many boys to excel – the idea of being “top of the class”, or the best at maths, or the prize-winning reader – has now been eradicated in the very schools (those in deprived areas) where it is most needed. And thrown out along with this will-to-win, were the clear, identifiable signs of goals having been reached: in order to avoid any child feeling that he had failed in relation to his classmates or his teacher’s expectations, the steps to progress were obscured and the expectations lowered.
There was no longer any way for children to be rewarded for climbing the rungs of a ladder. “Learning through play” meant that the accomplishment of learning itself could be disguised in a way that would conceal who was quicker to learn than whom. If working class boys are to regain any sense of education being worthwhile, the schools will have to offer them prizes and accolades when they do well, and encouragement to join the race when they fall behind.