During my last blog, I predicted that - as a consequence of only having four weeks with pupils resistant to unfamiliar teachers, longer days and alien methods - the Chinese taught pupils' end-of-experiment results would lag behind their more progressive, British taught peers.
How wrong I was. This week's episode of Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School showed the conclusion of a four week - albeit deeply flawed - experiment which pitted Chinese traditionalism against British progressivism.
Despite being dealt a pretty miserable hand of cards, handicapped by the sheer unfamiliarity of their personalities and strategies, and the short timescale they had to cross the divide, the Chinese teachers triumphed. According to every measure, their pupils outperformed their British taught peers.
Of course the experiment was, as already pointed out, deeply flawed. But let's not kid ourselves: it was deeply flawed in favour of the child-centred approach. When one considers this simple fact, one cannot help but be astonished by the findings and draw some obvious conclusions. First, traditional methods are so manifestly effective that they were able to overcome the disadvantages besetting the Chinese teachers from the beginning. Secondly, and just as significantly, progressive methods are so ineffective that, in spite of the enormous advantages enjoyed by the British teachers, their pupils still failed to match their Chinese taught counterparts.
Are we concentrating too much on fun at the expense of learning and hard work perhaps? Not according to Bohunt's headmaster, Mr Strowger. He went from decrying Chinese methods as ineffective at the beginning of the experiment to, after begrudgingly conceding their superiority, berating them as inhumane at the end. The goalposts had shamelessly been moved, and, after apparently entering the endeavour with an open mind, he proceeded to ignore the experiment's findings. He had clearly learned nothing.
At this juncture, it is important to stress that I am not advocating the wholesale adoption of the Chinese approach. But we should be, and Mr Strowger in particular should be, seriously considering the implementation of many aspects, including a return to not showering teachers with opprobrium for the purported crime of talking too much. We need to expect more of our children and hand them back some responsibility.
Alas, Mr Strowger, I suspect, after hearing his last comments and his undisguised dislike of teacher-talk, intends to change very little. He will no doubt continue to insist upon teachers delivering 'fun' lessons in an effort to 'engage' their pupils. It really is incredibly frustrating. More to the point, our children deserve better.