The evidence against managing children

Filling the pail

In a recent post, I referred to a podcast interview with Dr David Armstrong. Armstrong’s contention was that we should stop attempting to manage children’s behaviour. He compared it to managing finances or cans of beans, claiming that this was dehumanising. Armstrong went on to suggest that we target teaching at children’s individual interests and perhaps even plan around those interests.

I instantly recognised this as a version of the long-running argument that has played out between educational progressivism and traditionalism. Since at least the beginning of the 20th century, progressivists have forcefully argued for following children’s interests and traditionalists have argued that all content is not equal and so proceeding in this way will lead to a degraded curriculum. Progressivists have called for what the 1960s Plowden report into U.K. primary education described as ‘permissive discipline‘ – there is no need for behaviour management strategies because…

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