And something another dad said to me about education has stuck with me right until now over ten years later.
It was Charley’s fascination with a snail, just like she had when she was little, that brought it back to mind.
I’d asked him ‘what do you think education is for?’
He replied; ‘to teach the children about their world and how to relate to it.’
It’s so obvious you can miss the point; that education is supposed to equip children to live in the world. To teach them about the world and how to function in it. Isn’t that why we send them to school?
But is school the best place now for them to achieve this?
For years we’ve thought it was. But as it’s become more prescriptive, more insular, more grade focussed, more removed from the reality of the world outside, more imprisoning, more socially unnatural, more political even, we need to think differently.
For children to learn about their world they need to be out in it, not shut away from it. They need to observe it, question, discover and have their fascination encouraged; all little kids are fascinated about their world it’s just switched off by adults around them who can’t be bothered to show it to them. And they need to have their inherent love of learning nurtured – for children are born with an inherent desire to learn, it just gets numbed by having to learn so much stuff that is irrelevant to them.
Get out with your child this summer and reignite their natural love of learning wherever you are, snails or not! There’s plenty else to observe – everything in fact. The simplest of things becomes extraordinary to a child.
And remember that the function of education is to teach your child about the world. And if that’s not happening perhaps you should consider the alternatives!