Who is Smithers to call us fuzzy? 2

August 27, 2004

Alan Smithers attacks so-called fuzzy subjects and blames their popularity for damaging traditional subjects such as chemistry and French.

The reality is that the range of subjects at A level has increased and students are choosing subjects they find interesting and relevant. In the past, many candidates studied traditional science subjects because they were offered a small range to choose from. Now only students who know they are likely to need chemistry as a prerequisite to studying for a particular degree are likely to take it.

Psychology, on the other hand, is relevant to most students, no matter what career they have in mind. Most students are likely to find themselves at some point in their lives trying to raise children, negotiate personal relationships, learn new skills or motivate and work with other people. The one universal truth about all students is that as members of the human race they will need to deal with and try to understand other human beings.

Given that psychology has much to say about what is vital in the human experience, why isn't it an important part of the national curriculum? It is time for Smithers and other critics to defend their views on what constitutes the "main body of knowledge" and for a wider debate to ensue on what we wish to impart to pupils during compulsory education.

Tony Ward
Head of psychology
Newman College of Higher Education, Birmingham

Related letter
Who is Smithers to call us fuzzy? 1

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