14/08/2014 16:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Teachers Scared To Tell Pupils: 'You're Wrong'

Teachers scared to tell pupils: 'You're wrong'

Many of today's teachers today have an actual 'fear of knowledge' and find it 'frightening, threatening, dominating, and oppressive', according to a top academic.

As a result, they fail to correct pupils' mistakes in the class and are reluctant to tell them: "You're wrong."

In an interview with Spiked magazine,
Michael Young, emeritus professor at the University of London's Institute of Education, said schools played a vital role in ensuring that pupils gain access to knowledge that 'takes them beyond their everyday lives'.

But he claimed that large numbers of teachers were too respectful of what pupils already know and were often reluctant to tell children: "You're wrong."

Prof Young, from the IOE's Faculty of Children and Learning, said: "Many teachers today have an actual fear of knowledge. They find it frightening, threatening, dominating, and oppressive."

The Government has published a new National Curriculum that emphasises the key knowledge that children are supposed to master at each stage of education.

The approach has been attacked by teachers' leaders as a 1950s-style throwback that risks holding pupils back on the international stage.

But Prof Young said: "The crucial role of schools is to give pupils access to knowledge that they won't get from their experiences and that takes them beyond their everyday lives.

"As society gets more complex, this becomes ever more important."

He added: "If you take knowledge seriously you have to recognise people who come to school do not know very much. Children may have enormous potential, but this is not the same as having knowledge.

"Teachers sometimes need to be able to say to their pupils 'you're wrong', otherwise they are not really teachers at all.

"Most teachers know intuitively that pupils who join their class want new knowledge; they expect teachers to pass judgement. They can't understand why teachers don't."