No laughing matter

March 17, 2006

So, Neil Mercer considers my comments on the doubtful merits of "research-based" teaching methods and the role of academics in schools of education to be "laughable" (Letters, March 3).

He asserts that educationists have had no influence on teaching in schools and are therefore not responsible for the declining preparedness of students arriving at universities.

May I point out that the disparagement of phonics in teaching reading, the devising and adoption of "look and say", "real books" and "positive marking" were not dreamt up by politicians. These ideas were research-based and came from academic educationists. They have had a disastrous effect on pupils' learning, and contributed to the oft-complained about lack of knowledge, academic skills and even basic literacy and numeracy among university freshers.

Perhaps Mercer would like to laugh these off, too; most of us are more inclined to cry.

Richard Austen-Baker Coventry

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