Professor Ivan Snook comments on Primary School Diaries 5

Every primary principal should read, and encourage their teachers to read, the latest of Kelvin Smythe’s Primary School Diaries, edited by Allan Alach. It begins by exposing the cunning publicity surrounding Tomorrows Schools, (‘It’s time you knew what is going on at your local school’). Thereafter, through the eyes of an active participant in every debate since the late 1980s, the reader gains an insight into the constant attacks on our education system from ideologues bent on using the schools for their own political and economic ends. As he puts it ‘The endgame is education dominated by global corporations delivering computer-based teaching programmes to classrooms along with an associated range of services to cluster schools.’  The presentation is interspersed with glimpses of what once was and what still might be: holistic education, focused on the child and allowing scope for the teacher’s professional judgement. As he puts it: ‘The holistic, of which developmental is the classroom expression, is a set of timeless principles fit for purpose as the basis for education in democratic societies.’ This he sees as the alternative to the current managerialist model of schooling, of which the IES is the latest manifestation.

Kelvin recognises that his booklet may have little effect on the current juggernaut but has decided to put it out ‘in the hope that one day things might change, and someone might stumble across the booklet and find it relevant.’

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