The Best Start In Life? – Are you joking?

If you are a parent you need to watch this programme then do some serious thinking: The Best Start In Life? http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=327517

After I watched it I want to scream several things:

– IT CERTAINLY ISN’T

– THERE ARE OTHER WAYS

– GRADES DON’T GUARANTEE HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES

– AND PARENTS SHOULD STOP BEING CONNED

When I watch this kind of pressure put on kids to get grades (at the expense of everything else) I could weep. As the psychologist in the programme suggests it’s damaging. It destroys happy family lives and relationships. And it doesn’t necessarily get people where they want to be. It is all a huge political con.

Why?

Well, politicians want votes don’t they? They get votes by pleasing people. The majority of people are parents so they have to try and give parents what they want. Parents want their kids to be clever in school; they’ve been led to believe that this will get them good jobs and lots of money. Many of them also want their kid to beat the kid next to them and get grades they can swank about in their social circles. So the politicians can please parents by making kids seem clever by getting lots of grades. They do this by manipulating the education system so much that it no longer resembles education but more of a sausage machine that produces grade-getting sausages at the expense of children’s needs. So then we create lots of obedient little sausages with the grades to get good professional jobs, except there aren’t enough jobs to go round professional or otherwise. And anyway, as many rich and successful people find out, having lots of money doesn’t necessarily make you fulfilled and happy – other things in life do and they need many other skills now excluded from the sausage making machine in the race for grades. Grades may make kids seem clever – but the kind of clever you need to be in the outside world has nothing to do with grades. Yet the politicians don’t care about that because they want people making money, because money making voters promote industry and pay tax to the government and so on and so on.

It’s a vicious soul destroying, planet destroying scenario. It destroys souls because it makes people who don’t achieve it believe they are failures. It destroys the planet because it buys into the idea of money and consumerism being the ultimate goal.

And it all starts by parents putting pressure on children to get the grades.

As an alternative, there are thousands of parents – increasing all the time – that have decided to take another route. They remove their children from the sausage machine scenario and educate them outside in the real world, with real people, giving them real experiences that teach them real life skills. Some of them don’t even do tests and exams of any sort. Yet they go on to live productive and happy lives, thanks to a real life understanding, as ours did even without the GCSEs that politicians hold up as magic keys to the parents and the parents hold up as magic keys (or rods!) to the kids.

We have a massive employment crisis in this country. We have a massive crisis with children being so switched off to education by schooling that they cannot even see how it would be of benefit. We have a massive crisis with so many kids who feel that no one even cares – so they stop caring too, about anything, even themselves.

And this grade-getting approach to education is one of the contributing factors to those crises. Because it prostitutes real education for political purposes.

We need to educate our children to have diverse, entrepreneurial skills, to be rich in experiences and therefore understanding, to have care and interest, to be flexible and adaptable, to have well practised social and communication experiences – the kind they’ll need to make themselves employable not the kind they need to survive school, to think broadly, extensively, globally.

A single-track, grade-getting education with a political agenda won’t do this.

But home education does!

(To learn more about the way parents home educate visit the brilliant blogs on the Home Education Blogs Page. Or you can read my guide to home education; Learning Without School, and of our personal journey in A Funny Kind Of Education. See the My Books page)

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11 thoughts on “The Best Start In Life? – Are you joking?

  1. Totally agree. At 23 I can only look back and learn from the fact I spent almost 10 years in private education, with extra tutors and elocution lessons from pushy parents who thought there was only one way to get a leg up. I rebelled at the age of 14 and have thoroughly proved to my parents that leaving the stoutly inflexible education environment was the best decision I ever made. Now an Air traffic controller based in Doha most of the year, I don’t regret my upbringing but I will not be pushing my own children down such a road. Finland seems like an interesting place… Shall put that on my next list of places to go!

  2. So good to hear I am not the only one who sees it this way. I often wondered with all the striving for the best grades…if EVERYONE got the A* and were all as well qualified as each other (say doctors for example) you would still have the same jobs available regardless. Would you not then have qualified doctors sweeping the streets, working in supermarkets, driving trains etc? I value all roles that people have in society and have never understood why one is paid better than another. Ultimately it is a free for all with people standing on each other in the race for the top, from fear of “failure” as it has been defined. Their creativity and motivation often gets lost in the chaos. Such a shame.

  3. “We need to educate our children to have diverse, entrepreneurial skills, to be rich in experiences and therefore understanding, to have care and interest, to be flexible and adaptable, to have well practised social and communication experiences – the kind they’ll need to make themselves employable not the kind they need to survive school, to think broadly, extensively, globally.”…. Ross, how true, how absolutely true!

  4. What I notice is how those ‘in the system’ cannot hear what we say or perhaps dont want to hear. It would mean having a complete rethink of life. It might mean to have to give up a job they love to look after the kids, or horror or horrors be with the kids all day 🙂 The whole belief system needs an overhaul. I was on the other side of this debate 10 years ago and found it very hard to get my head around how home education could work for our son. It felt very much like going against the flow, but then of course realised it was the other way around once I had taken the dive in head first. That we go with the childrens flow and life is much easier and calmer all round. I would forward your blogg onto others but know they just are not ready to hear this yet. Keep going Ross, you are making a difference.

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