Monday, 22 October 2012


Parents Evenings always used to be lovely affairs where I was told how wonderful my children were and what an amazing job we were doing with them.

Now I dread them.

Today I held in my tears as the teacher (who I actually like, so I am not criticising in any way) explained to us that they would get so much more out of Max if they could let him go outside more, but the curriculum doesn't allow for it.

When my boys were small, I encouraged 'out of the box' thinking. I would give them an everyday household item, for example a spoon, and would ask them to come up with different uses for it. They would invent lots of different uses for the spoon. A spoon could be a weapon (easy option), they could sit on it and fly (like Big Cook Little Cook), they could use it to flick with, they might even be able to use it as an umbrella if their head was small enough. Creativity was rife and I loved it.

When they began Reception, they had a whole classroom full of creativity to enjoy and they flourished. Their 'own choices' of what to play with / write / build or make were positively encouraged and they were praised, even if their junk-modelled rocket looked more like a generously sellotaped box with fluffy bits hanging off.

Then Year 1 hit with a harsh vengeance and the illusion of school being a place where they were encouraged to be themselves became a distant memory.

As they have gone further and further up the school system, they have been more and more squeezed to fit the tick boxes that are required. Everything that is excess to requirements is trimmed off. No-one is interested if they are exceptionally sensitive and thoughtful towards others or if they have the kind of brain that invents new ideas.

Today, I wonder if I set them up for disaster. Perhaps I should have just encouraged them to conform and be like everyone else. Perhaps I got it all wrong.

I am all for obedience and I know that sometimes we have to just get on with things we don't like doing. I know that life lessons have to be learnt. I know that most teachers do a fantastic job with the resources they are given and the limitations placed on them. Yet I still feel utterly deflated when I hear that robots are being created who can pass Ofsteds and SATs.

What value are we placing on those children who can't fit the robot mould? What will happen to the ones who can't tick the boxes? Where is the celebration and encouragement of other life skills? How can a system, so utterly flawed, continue to mould and shape our children? What do those parents who really care about their children do when they see them being flattened and squashed into a box that just doesn't fit them? What will become of these squashed children? Will they be able to re-mould themselves when they can climb out of the box of the education system? What future do they have?

1 comment:

lizfortoday said...

I liked your post. It made me ask ... Do we want 5 year old boys to sit for 3 hours and follow commands? What is the right answer?
I have 6 daughters (2 oldest are in college) and 1 son who is 5. I am already seeing him 'conform' to the female dominated world of organized education. He's a big (and rough) 5 year old. When I had his 6 week conference last week I was actually kinda sad when the teacher told me he is a model student.
Anyhow, maybe your posts and the similiar ones I've been reading will help to shed light on the anti-boy message that is so prevalent in schools today.