It is that time again when children either start or return to school after the summer break. Reading the press across the world it is fascinating and somewhat frightening to see what occupies the minds of parents and teachers.
There is much discussion and argument about the need, format, number and timing of countless tests. There is the usual discussion on the correct age to start school. Now is the time to discover whether your child has passed the interview for nursery school. There is the perennial discussion on the value or otherwise of school uniform. This is further intensified this year with discussions on headscarves and the niqab. In some countries there is even discussion on ensuring a secure environment for students. In the UK children were excluded from school because their parents had failed to attend a health and safety briefing!
What a pity that standardisation seems to drive the discussion agenda. Why does no one address the things that really matter and that would start to treat people as individuals?
In today’s industrialised world surely it is about time that we devised a school timetable that allowed for different joining points throughout the year rather than benefiting those children that were born just before the non-existent harvest! If we can have strawberries in January why can’t we start school in January?
The other main area of concern is that of what children do when they get to school. Where is the emphasis on discovery, on risk-taking, on learning from failure or learning from play? I would be surprised if a parent that takes their child to interview for nursery school (assuming the child had something to put on their CV at two years old) would see failure as an option!
People have quite rightly complained about battery chickens producing eggs in cages, and yet we are starting another year where we put children in battery cages, we deny them freedom to fly and then we sit and grade them like eggs. What a pity we worry more about chickens than our children!