Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Parent bashing

I see the Guardian is enjoying its pre-summer holiday fun with its now familiar 'Leave those kids alone' headline. Huh. Parents. One moment it's neglect; the next we're helicoptering.

I just want to remember a bit of background culture.

Not so many years ago (Sir) Michael Wilshaw urged more structured learning in school-based nurseries.

As I remember, he advised 'well-directed play', which I guess is code to parents for Teach your child how to play before they get to nursery at age 2! Then your little Tinkertop will be ahead at school and succeed in LIFE! Maybe his agenda was to reinforce the culture of school league tables and early testing.

I guess some nurseries took up the offer, telling Tinkertop how to play with the toy trucks in a manner which would comply with all road signals. Then upcoming parents could be properly instructed in the pre-nursery input expected of them. Direct your child's play to focus their learning potential and maximise performance in age 5 tests - realise your child's true potential!

But it's not the first time that the government, with its departments and think tanks, have set about telling parents what to do and how to do it, threatening us with the guilt of dire consequences if our child fails to comply.

As in, your child will fall behind if they miss one day of school. Your child will fail to get a good job if they don't follow the school rules. And (one of the best yet), Your child will fail if they don't have a good grasp of grammar.

As a semi-neglectful parent of daughters, who have between them missed some 10,000 days at school (and I have yet to find one drawback about this), I can truly say I want parents to rebel. I really do. I want parents to loudly call out nonsensical parent-bashing crap every time they encounter it. I want them to kick up so much fuss we can't see the pavements for the packs of feral kids sent out to see if they can construct a functioning alternative society before tea-time.

Let's face reality. Schooling is big business from pre-school to further education. The government has turned the whole lot into a retail job, running on the same lines as the outfits in your shopping centre department stores. Courses have 'sticker prices' and now it seems normal to talk about money, not widening a person's thinking, as the end goal to a life lived in schooling. Research, findings, policy-forming think-tanking: I suspect much of it. They are basically seeking to reinforce the schooling system that we have, rather than to radically approach and present challenging thinking.

So how about a different puzzle for us all to spin on. How many graduates do you need to staff a coffee shop?

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