Learning from the past

As I said recently, I am currently clearing out tons of paperwork, books, reports, CDs -- anything, in fact, that I have had no need to bother with for the past several years. It is a process that has been as slow as I'd feared rather than as fast as I'd hoped, mainly because ordinary life always seems to intrude on even the best laid plans.

Nevertheless, it has been an interesting experience, because of what I've learnt during it. Or perhaps, not so much learnt, as been reminded of. I think this can all be distilled in the following points.

There is nothing new

Looking at documents and reports which are ten, twenty or even, in one case, forty years old tells me that although the technology may change, the questions posed by educationalists tend not to. For example, over a decade ago I contributed to a review of the National Curriculum in England and Wales, while back in 1985 I wrote a critical analysis of a course known as the Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE). Much, possibly all, I had to say about that would apply to some courses on offer today. I have come across reports on assessing digital literacy, and an article I wrote in 1995 about online safety. I used to joke that if I'd kept my old worksheets for twenty years I wouldn't have to redo them when educational views came round full circle again. Unfortunately, that is actually true, not only of worksheets, but reports and research analysis too. There is something rather unnerving about that.

Where there is apparently unlimited money, there is waste