What the hell are we doing to our kids?

I’ve been back into school for a day or two recently. I miss the contact with kids. And also wanted to see the workings of a classroom again after all these years; maybe revise my rather cynical view. Is it working?

Well, the way I see it is this; we take immature little beings who are still developing a delight in their world and are keen to learn about it in explorative and experiential ways. We remove them from their self motivated investigations and tell them that way of learning is invalid. We stick them in a structured institution which disregards their desire to learn about the things that interest them. We tell them what we adults want them to learn which we misguidedly think will make them cleverer. We enforce learning tasks upon them in such a way it takes away all the delight they had in learning thus destroying their motivation. We heap far too much over complicated, prescriptive and academic stuff on them far too soon, when they are far too underdeveloped to get anything from it. And we do this in the confines of such a rigid timetable that they don’t have time to formulate understanding, reinforce knowledge, or develop skills. Thus setting many of them up to fail.

Then, when they do fail, which in these circumstances many of them are bound to do, we tell them it’s their fault because they are stupid since they seem to have a difficulty with learning.

Cynic? Moi?

Not only does this too-much-too-soon scenario destroy our children’s potential for learning, it destroys things that are much more precious and life damaging; their faith in education, their self belief and their aspirations. There is nothing to be gained except for a select few who can cope. But it’s at the expense of many.

Of course, the politicians gain. Forcing too-much-too-soon and winning a few academic points for the more able kids wins votes for the politicians. They can say they’re making children cleverer. But they’re not; as they sit in their elitist little empires making policies for people whose lives they know as little about as I do the queen’s, they’re switching kids off to learning anything.

Meanwhile in schools teachers despair of not only having the finger of blame for academic failure pointed at them, but also at having to deliver an inappropriate curriculum and force inappropriate learning targets on the children in their class. And parents despair with worry as to why their child is not ‘achieving’.

So as I try and help some poor little eight year old understand a mathematical concept that’s so hard it used to be on a GCSE paper I wonder what is to be done. The only way I can see it changing is for both politicians and parents to put a stop to this enforced, dull, academic hothousing, and start rebuilding a personal and developmental education for the sake of the individual and not for the sake of the politics.

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6 thoughts on “What the hell are we doing to our kids?

  1. Hi Sandra, thanks for the comment. Yes – it seems an enormous mountain to climb. Only by talking about it, letting it be known parents aren’t happy – the teachers certainly aren’t, by raising awareness of our dissatisfaction, getting into the schools and seeing it with our own eyes so we can talk about it first hand, then barraging politicians, will we start the ball rolling. Uphill struggle I agree! The privilged politicians have such little understanding of the lives of the rest of us and how inappropriate is so much of what they push on everyday children who do not have their elitist learning environments!

  2. I believe everything you say is true but how does Joe Bloggs go about changing any of this. How do I as a grandparent and my daughters as parents get to go and sit in on a class lesson and gain experience of what the lessons are like for us to be able to comment from our own point of view?

  3. How do your conversations in the staff room go? I bet you are doing great work raising consciousness and awareness over coffee and biscuits.

    • Thanks for the comments. I have to admit I chicken out of raising the more controversial stuff! As Big Mamma Frog suggests, there are conversations you struggle to have!

  4. Oh yes, well said!
    I’ve got to the point where I struggle to have conversations about education with friends who have schooled children and who believe it to be a positive, nurturing, educational environment. So often in Home education I see children who have been rescued from the state education system and have been so damaged by the experience that they take years to recover. It’s true a proportion of children survive the experience of school, but I often wonder at what cost.

  5. Hi I totally agree with what you are saying there are still a lot of kids getting left out with in this Educational system it is so wrong, the kids that need more support, don’t stand a chance.

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