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.
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)