I’m dismayed by the current ethos of target setting in education, the constant drive for improvement (there’s no longer such a thing as good enough), and the expectation that everyone should be at least averagely good at everything (every child matters? Not any more. A vestige of understanding of the normal distribution? I don’t think so.) I don’t remember this from my own school days at all. Failing your mocks in January and the threat of having to stay in Chesterfield for the rest of your life was considered to be sufficient carrot/stick.
Today’s rant was brought on by Big Daughter’s report, which arrived this morning, and exhorts her to:
-take on more responsibilities
-join an astronomy GCSE class next year (in year 9? why?)
-pass her clarinet exam and join wind band
-do (even) more extracurricular sports (as well as the netball, rounders, climbing and athletics she’s currently doing…)
And all of this whilst continuing to excel academically. She’s 13… There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week for all of this purposeful organised activity. It certainly doesn’t leave much time for enjoyment, friendship, creativity or dreaming, does it? No time to read for pleasure, to experiment with personalities and looks, to spend time outdoors appreciating the world we live in, no time even to lock yourself in your bedroom listening to music too loudly. No time for living, and learning about who you really are. It seems like we’re desperate to start our children onto the adult bandwagon of stress, low self esteem and poor mental health as soon as we can.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m grateful for the many opportunities that schools offer my children. I’m all for opportunities, for everyone, but that implies freedom of choice, freedom to choose not to participate. I’m delighted when my children do well, particularly in an extracurricular activity they’ve chosen. But is more better? Do they need to do everything (and do it well)? I’m not so sure.