What makes a difference to an education?

How lucky am I? I’ve got a twenty year old who still likes mooching round the toy shops! This means I get to moochcharley and beanie 004 round them too and wax sentimental over the toys we looked at when they were little. She’s gone back to Uni now so I have no excuse!

We didn’t buy that many, most of them being far beyond our budget. But actually, through not buying them, I realised they got as much stimulation and fun from the things they improvised with. It got their brains and imaginations exercising too. My youngest could make whole soap operas out of a few twigs and a lump of mud!

You don’t necessarily need lots of toys or money or even technology to keep kids stimulated. You just need imagination.

Just like you don’t need lots of equipment or expensive resources to educate. You just need an imaginative adult to inspire children to go on learning.

In the competitive race for clients schools try to outdo each other with wonderful resources; science labs, climbing apparatus, swimming pools, special rooms, technology. So we are lured into believing that these are necessary for a child to become educated.

They’re not. They’re just nice add-ons, but not a necessity. Much of the science kids do can be improvised with household things you can get your hands on or in the environment, and the more expensive stuff many don’t get their hands on anyway. Parks, trees, playgrounds and centres provide climbing apparatus, most towns have swimming pools, or you could try wild swimming. And most of us now have basic technology for a child to use – it’s free in the library. They can buy, beg or borrow more as they graduate.

But the thing that money really cannot buy is the thing that really, really makes a difference to an education:

An inspiring, encouraging, imaginative adult. One of those beats resources any day. One of those can make an education out of any resource.

Imagination beats resources. So does experience, adventure, real life. Not just academic or virtual life.

Our budget wouldn’t stretch to the kind of toy my twenty year old has just blown her Christmas money on via an Ebay bargain – she waited a long time didn’t she? Was she deprived?

Nah! I don’t think so!

And, more importantly, she wasn’t deprived of the opportunity to give her imagination plenty of exercise either!

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6 thoughts on “What makes a difference to an education?

  1. This is so true. I know that my boys will become men in a world even more reliant on technology so they are given opportunities to learn about these things. It is not these moments that they cherish though. They love being outdoors making things with twigs and learning about the world in a very hands on way. My youngest made word makers from toilet roll tubes a couple of days ago and has been using them every day since. I spend very little on resources because we invent the things we need as we go along and most of gets constructed from cardboard and papier mâché.

    Imagination is a priceless tool for an educator as is access to a well stocked library.

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely post. The giant teddy is wonderful.

  2. Oh, yeah. You should hear my kids in the mornings. Each of them has their own world and they take turns having adventures in them. They are never bored. Some technology is nice, but way less than the average (I can’t stand doing flashcards, let the computer do it for me…)!
    BTW, my 3 year old loves the giant monkey. He has one almost the same, but less than half the size. 😀

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