“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein
My 4 year old son started school last month as he is a summer born. The legal requirement for attending school in the UK is 5 years old, and due to this there are many 4 year old children beginning their school life 6-12 months earlier than many of their peers. Interestingly it comes from a Victorian system designed in the late 1800’s to help women get into work, not look after the interests of the children.
My Scandinavian colleagues look at me with bewilderment when I explain this, as places such as Denmark and Sweden do not require children in full time education until 6 / 7 – a starting age proven to result in better academic achievement and well-being, an article in The New Scientist explains this well: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029435-000-too-much-too-young-should-schooling-start-at-age-7/
What surprises me the most about this early schooling in the UK is that if you attend a state run school they don’t spend the first 1 to 2 years learning solely through play. Learning through play is proven to be the most effective way a child can learn, why doesn’t our school system and society overall embrace this? I’m still trying to work this out.
If your child attends a Montesorri (such as Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs did) they use a system that expands on a childs curiosity not one that diminishes it by forcing wisdom. Children in the UK school system are on the receiving end of wisdom and have the curiosity taken from them, and not only that, they have KPI’s and other metrics that must be met, really quite bewildering. Free education should not be treated like a business.
Ken Robinson did a fabulous TED talk on the subject of killing creativity at schools: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/transcript if you’re a parent and haven’t seen this then it’s worth the 20 minutes.
As parents ourselves, my wife and I realise it’s not the actual schools that are the problem, it’s the system they use for education. From the above TED talk there are 2 key points that as parents we understand and reverse / make up for as best we can at home:
- They train people to become compliant workers, sit in straight rows, and do what they’re told.
- They teach kids that the best way to fit in is to want what others have / buy stuff.
One resounding quote from Kens talk is this “They churn out people who await instruction….but we don’t churn out people who are innovative, creative, and ask questions, who interrupt…who are by almost any any definition artists. We actually shun those people.”
Anyone here familiar with sticker charts? Way to go creating a culture of doing things only to receive, how did that become a thing? Just one example of our school system setting up our children for a more difficult adulthood.
Overall, if we continue on this destructive path where education branches away from learning, the gap that’s already felt between millenials and generation X & Y will continue to widen and get larger between future generations.
I’ll end with one of the most important influences on schooling for me personally, and that is Seth Godin’s thinking and action. As parents we absolutely have a duty of care to make up for the gaps and inadequacies our schooling brings into our children’s lives. Seth has some fabulous materials available here http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/09/the-shameful-fraud-of-sorting-for-youth-meritocracy.html