Michael Gove calls for longer school days and shorter holidays – UK Politics – UK – The Independent.

You really wonder what kind of world this guy inhabits. I’m beginning to worry about who advises politicians when it comes to educational research, because they get it so disastrously wrong. We are indeed fortunate in Australia that the Grattan Institute and ACER have done a pretty god job in publicising research before the pollies get hold of it; but one only has to recall the appalling mess that surrounded the Senate enquiry, where direct instruction was equated with back to basics and became a football, to realise that it’s a delicate balance.

If I were to take anything from the research into the East Asian education systems, it would be the following:

  • We have enough instruction (face to face) in the first world, but probably not enough supported personal work time for students (study time or homework-at-school time).
  • The assumptions about the style of teaching being appropriate for anywhere but East Asia are wrong, because such assumptions are blind and deaf to the importance of culture in student learning (a very similar effect can be seen in the manic attempts to copy FInland, which is in a unique situation that could not be completely imitated in Australia).
  • The raising of expectations is important, but it is how one does it that is the key. Making exams harder actually reduces the quality of learning even when it increases performance against the marks (it is interesting that the East Asian economies are net consumers of intellect property and rely on economies of scale and labour for success, so education at the moment is not playing a huge role in creating a knowledge-based economy for those countries).
  • What does seem to be a strength is providing additional time for teachers to engage in personal learning and development (e.g. Shanghai); but that flies entirely in the face of Gove’s argument.

‘Twas ever this in education. We just keep battling away for the kids…

Mr Gove said that research in Hong Kong, Singapore and other East Asian nations showed that expectations of mathematical knowledge and scientific knowledge were “at every stage” more demanding than in Britain.

“In order to reach those levels of achievement a higher level of effort is expected on behalf of students, parents and teachers,” he said.

“School days are longer, school holidays are shorter. The expectation is that to succeed, hard work is at the heart of everything.”

Mr Gove said he wanted to see schools introduce a longer day for pupils, suggesting that some are already “recognising that we need to change the structure of the school term and in particular that it is poorer children that lose out from longer holidays.”