More changes planned for the teachers and schools, and pupils and parents to weather as ministers fight over what it is we actually need to do to make our schools better.
Change is certainly needed but I can’t really see how these plans are going to tackle the problem of engaging masses of children who are bored and switched off, disruptive and troublesome and not parented in a way that supports education. Soldier style bullying won’t. Testing teachers for ‘emotion and character intelligence’ sounds scary – how the hell do you do that and who’s emotionally intelligent enough to decide? Making kids pass more exams won’t either. But what will?
I’ve been suggesting for ages that we can learn a lot from parents who home educate. These parents don’t have to bully their children, intimidate or shame them into learning. They don’t focus on test and exam passing as a be all and end all of their education. They give their children a whole wealth of other experiences besides academic ones. Many of them don’t have a degree or studied higher education. Yet they seem to be leading their children towards becoming successfully educated despite that.
So how do they do that without all those elements the ministers seem to feel are needed? There is no tangible way except that they treat their children with respect and care, consider their wishes, strengths and learning preferences and encourage them to be engaged in education by showing them how wonderful the world is – why would anyone not want to learn about it and how to be part of it! They bring their children to a high academic standard not by practising endless academics and testing them on it but by practising a multitude of other skills too. Their children are intelligent not because of endless intelligence tests but because of the interaction they have with a high proportion of interested adults. Their kids are engaged and respectful of others because they are cared for and respected themselves. The kids learn things without being taught by a teacher because they want to learn. And the kids respect their chance to learn because that’s the climate in which they learn and learning is fun!
Education is about people. It’s about the interaction between people over and above anything else. Parents home educate successfully simply because they are caring people prepared to think outside the box. We need more caring people not more people with degrees or ex-soldiers. We need people who are fun, people who can see a kids’ point of view. People who are inspirational and creative. You cannot really test for that.
Education is a truly wonderful, life enhancing thing. Do our kids know that from their experience in school? Perhaps ministers should be asking themselves that question and creating schools that deliver a whole rounded experience for our children not just one that tests and stresses and intimidates and bores many of them to disruption! Focus on creating places where our children really wanted to be.