Debate: Do we teach children or subjects?

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By John CoeGeneral Secretary of the National Association for Primary Education

Do we teach children or subjects? Of course, all teachers, on both sides of the 11+ divide, should teach both

John Coe

I expect that many of us have been asked the question, ‘What do you do?’, by a new acquaintance, and replied with a slightly sinking heart – ‘I’m a teacher.’ ‘How interesting,’ runs the conversation; then inevitably, ‘What subject?’, follows. The only possible reply to this by a primary specialist is ‘children’. This is usually sufficient, but I remember a devastating follow up by a well-meaning aunt who on hearing that the children were in primary school said comfortingly: ‘Oh you’ll no doubt go on to teach older ones when you’ve had more experience.’

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