I loved school when I was a kid. I was happy in every subject with the exception of maths. (Numbers & I don’t play well together!) I enjoyed learning & still do, no matter what it is. At the moment I am enjoying learning about new knitting stitches & web design. Inspired by the @ukedchat debate on independent learning got me thinking about why I enjoy learning & others don’t. It was the most frustrating thing as a teacher. Some teachers are being told it’s them, and sometimes it is. Teachers are under more and more pressure to get their students to ‘perform’ well. I know of schools that are telling their teachers if a child doesn’t meet their expected grade, it is simply the fault of the teacher. I am boiling with rage as I type that.
This morning I also noticed a debate on obesity levels led by Zest magazine & how it can be reduced among children. I was disturbed by the number of tweets from people saying ‘schools should teach them how to eat healthy’. Um…they do!
And I guess the thing that angers me the most, still even though I’m no longer teaching, is the perception that it’s always the fault of teachers, schools and education. If I don’t eat fruit or veg, it’s up to me. If I decide to close my mind to new learning experiences, it’s up to me. Even children choose whether they want to eat their greens or do their homework.
I learnt all about food at home. I watched my mother and my grandmothers cooking and baking. Fatty foods were ‘treats’. Homework was done before anything else. It was at home, growing up that these lessons were learnt. Why is it so different now? (I’m only 31 after all!)
How many families sit down to a healthy dinner in the evening and how many won’t? How many children will be given books and educational toys this Christmas and how many will receive computer games, mobile phones & make-up? I was always given presents that encouraged me to do or learn something new. I had (& still have) a huge imagination and relished being creative.
I think my point is this. I wonder when we’ll stop blaming schools for the failings of society. It’s not one teachers fault if a child doesn’t achieve 5 A* – C grades. It’s the whole school, the family, the authorities, government, media & society as a whole. If childhood obesity is on the rise then it’s the fault of everyone, for thinking we can eat fatty foods and not exercise much and children won’t notice. By the time most children reach secondary school they are set in their ways. They’ve watched their family and other people, how they behave, what they do, what their attitude is. By the time they reach key stage four, the battle is almost over and their paths can rarely be changed. If Mr Gove wants education to change, simply forcing his own schooling on the nation’s children isn’t the way to do it.