HC Deb 05 August 1965 vol 717 cc1869-70
29. Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress he has made in promoting the increased use of programmed teaching machines in school for those subjects for which the use of such teaching aids is appropriate.

Mr. Prentice

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend on 24th June to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams).

Mr. Jenkin

I thank the Minister for that reply, but will not he agree that there is an increasing place in education for the use of teaching machines, particularly in those subjects in which it is simply a matter of learning by rote and there is no question of attempting any sort of aesthetic understanding or knowledge of a sense of values? Cannot subjects like primary mathematics, elementary science and so forth, with great advantage, be taught well and more swiftly with teaching machines?

Mr. Prentice

I agree in general terms with what the hon. Gentleman says so long as we bear in mind that this has to be done against the background of proper research, which we are now financing in a number of centres, and, of course, with the consent of the teaching profession. Teachers must themselves be involved in it and introduce the use of teaching machines as an aid to teaching in a way which fits in with other established principles of teaching. This we are encouraging, and expansion is taking place for the reason which the hon. Gentleman has indicated.

Mr. Walden

Does not my hon. Friend consider that the suggestion made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), with reference to Question No. 26, about watching American experience is thoroughly appropriate here as well and we might well do more to study what is being done in this matter in the United States?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, Sir. We have established a research and documentation centre for programmed learning in Birmingham which is studying, among other things, what is being done in the United States and other countries where progress has been made.