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Educational Time Travel

In a post-festive haze, I joined the hundreds and thousands of sofa surfers and perused the TV listings on repeat. During what must have been the 70th time I had scrolled mindlessly through the channels, I came across Back in Time for School (BB2, Thursday 3/1/19, 8pm). Initially, I clutched onto the last remaining shreds of that holiday feeling and told myself I would watch it on catch up when I had my head fully back into education but quickly my rational brain followed up with: 'WATCH IT NOW SILLY!' And of course I did. Why wouldn't I? I love the Back in Time series anyway, and am deeply interested in the ways in which the current curriculum varies from those in our educational history.

So, how did it fare? 

As expected, it was the standard blend of information and entertainment, focusing on the highest highs and the lowest lows of a late-Victorian/early-Edwardian education. For me, the most interesting points of learning were that: some of the most up to date scientific knowledge was being taught in the late Victorian era to ensure students were well prepared for jobs they might be entering into; the authorities put a stop to the aforementioned progressive curriculum and ensured that a gender divide was put in place to ensure that female students studied housewifery whilst male students, by comparison, studied Latin to ensure they were prepared to be in high society (oh look - there's that sense of competition and comparison we seem to be obsessed with even now...); female students were able to learn such things as jujitsu as a part of the Suffragette Movement; and that male students were further prepared for up-to-date professions they were likely to encounter after school by having shooting training (I rate that they were well prepared for reality - not that said reality was war and mass loss of life!).

Although it is evident that a lot has changed in education in the last 100 years or so (i.e. we no longer teach such abhorrent texts and attitudes about other cultures; schools are more inclusive; corporal punishment is no longer legal), it seems to me that our modern curriculum is outdated and we keep looking back to the past in fear, rather than being brave and looking forward to ensure that students are prepared for the future. 

All in all, I definitely recommend catching up with episode 1 if you haven't seen it already. I have the series on record to make sure I don't miss out and I will certainly be keeping an active eye on the similarities and differences between the past and the present.