Time: Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science. Some simple, relatively uncontroversial definitions of time include “time is what clocks measure” and “time is what keeps everything from happening at once” (Wikipedia)
Last night I made the mistake of reading the news, and it got me thinking (and feeling ranty!) I read this article- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22202694 – about how Michael Gove is proposing longer school days and less school holidays.
The article frustrated me for a number of reasons. Children need time to be children. Childhood is such a magical time and is for such a short period in our lives. Children need time to PLAY and EXPLORE. With what Gove has suggested they’ll be too damn knackered to do any of those things. Too exhausted by endless hours trying to be the best. I’m not saying have no aspirations or aim high, I’m passionate about encouraging children to achieve their full potential, but it frustrates me because some children could be at school 24 hours a day/7 days a week (my daughter is one of them) and they would still never be the best. It doesn’t mean that these children don’t have skills, or talents, or will be amazingly successful in their lives. Encouraging children to DO their best would be a far better route to take. It doesn’t go hand in hand that the more time you spend in school the more academically intelligent you are. Gove has looked at other countries and decided that their education system is better than ours, and proposed that we adopt their rules. But, as I say on MANY occasions, ALL children are different and what works so well for one, could be a compete disaster for another. Why does one concept for education suit all? It couldn’t possibly! It makes me wonder if in coming to this conclusion, Gove has truly thought about the consequences on children, parents or teachers? Has he thought about what’s best for each child or only what they ‘should be’ or ‘ought to be’ doing? Does he think that getting grade As is the only thing that matters? Is that what he values? Is that what success is solely measured by, how well we do academically at school?
This then also made me think of someone I know very well. There are so many things that she does with her children that are very different to the way I parent my children. And whilst I’m a huge advocate for bringing up different children in different ways it got me thinking as to whether she (and me for that matter!) is listening to them and bringing them up how they dictate, or whether she is parenting how she thinks she ought to. Do we do what we think is best for our children, without possibly really finding out what is actually best for them? Do we know our children’s natural talents or their interests, are they allowed to nurture any?
We all have dreams and hopes for our children before they are even born, but do our children always follow our hopes and ideals for them? You might want your son to like football, yet all he talks about is rugby. You might want your daughter to be a ballerina, yet all she craves is hip-hop. And you might want your child to be the cleverest in their class, yet they still struggle at school.
Michael Gove is, in my opinion, naive if he thinks that by placing children in school for longer they will each magically become a genius! Are schools becoming too focused by paperwork and results and grades, too focused on numbers and statistics, when they are said to be more ‘child-centred?’ Is Gove too focused on ‘shoulds,’ ‘musts’ and ‘ought tos?’
When I had my daughter I was young and naive and doing it on my own. I gave her a bottle for an evening feed at four weeks because that is what I was told I ought to do. I never co-slept because I was told she should sleep in her own bed. I became frustrated because she didn’t do what she ought to be doing. She didn’t eat as much as she should. But as she grew up, a strong willed and stubborn red haired child, all of the, shoulds, musts and ought tos went out of the window. And instincts kicked in.
She liked to wear blue, wasn’t the sort of child that liked ballet and liked to graze on food all day instead of having three set meals. And at school, she struggled. She didn’t learn to read when she should have. She couldn’t count to ten when she ought to have. But it didn’t make me want her to go to school more. It didn’t make me want to get her a tutor or drown her in homework. It made me want to take away the stresses of school and the pressure off. It made me want to have as much fun with her as we possibly could at home. She was allowed to be a child. We played, we laughed, we sang, and she relaxed. She can count now, and she can read and write. And she has a wealth of experiences to draw upon when doing these things.
Pushing children, in my opinion, is never going to work. It potentially just gives them more chances to fail to reach what are often unrealistically high expectations. It’s the classic teacher quote of ‘could do better!’ I think they should be encouraged to pursue their talents, play as much as possible and be supported in being confident of who they are.
What do you think?