During a lecture at the Hermitage School in London, Bell said students need a well-rounded curriculum, including basic skills, and not the "incoherent" approach of over-liberal teaching, the BBC reported Tuesday.
"I saw too much that went wrong in the 1960s and 1970s -- incoherent or non-existent curriculums, too many eccentric and unevaluated teaching methods, and too much of the totally soft centered belief that children would learn if you left them to it," Bell said.
"In particular, the notion that children learn to read by osmosis -- and I suppose I exaggerate to make the point -- was plain crackers."
Bell added that during the last decade there have been significant improvements in the standard of teaching and pupil achievement in England.
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