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Debate: Not miniature adults

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By John CoeInformation Officer for the National Association for Primary Education

Understanding child psychology is an essential part of teaching. So why does today’s teacher training largely forget it?

John Coe

I yield to no one an admiration for the commitment, enthusiasm and downright skill demonstrated by young teachers. Those who have stuck at it (about four out of every ten who started at college) are true professionals and better than I was all those years ago when I started teaching. Recently though, I had a salutary glimpse of how young children are seen, as people, by those who have qualified in recent years. The task was to design an international primary curriculum centred on the topic of global warming. I led a small team of first-rate teachers, each one nominated by a forward-looking, successful school. I won’t be specific about their ages, but suffice to say if all their years of experience had been added together, it would just about have been equal to my own. Our aim was not so much to instruct – this was part of it but not the greater part – but rather to provoke thinking about the issues which will have such a powerful effect on today’s primary children as they become adults in the years ahead.

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