Pavlovian education

As a harassed further education teacher, I offer my wholehearted support to Carol Taylor Fitz-Gibbon ("When will they ever learn?", 5 November). My college is struggling with yet another government-imposed initiative: the Key Skills qualification. This bears all the hallmarks of previous initiatives: namely, it is a well-intentioned, superficially plausible attempt to raise the skills levels of 16- to 19-year-olds in the areas of IT, numeracy and communication. However, it is also unwieldy, bureaucratic and wedded to a simplistic behaviourism that reduces knowledge to a shopping list and students to Pavlov's dogs. The result is predictable: student boredom and resentment; staff frustration.

Andrew Morrison
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

This article first appeared in the 12 November 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - The Empire strikes back