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My daughter has just tagged me on the This Morning’s Facebook page. The Department for Education is proposing to extend school hours and cut the school holidays from 13 weeks to 7 weeks.
Let’s put aside for one moment the Teacher’s unions who will not allow this to happen, that teachers are different to all other public sector employees. They work harder than anyone else with a job, and theirs is the single most important job in the world. They are tasked with educating our children to fulfil their potential. Let’s put aside how rude and dismissive many teachers are in telling our children they won’t make anything in their life. Let’s ignore that they have a career for life, no matter how bad a teacher they are, let’s focus on what a longer school day and fewer holidays will mean for the people that matter; our children.
I believe the Victorians had it right. Learn a lot of things like times tables by rote, but also that music, art, drama and PE are an important part of education. Few people excel in all fields, although when you are a child it may feel that way.
Over the last 4 decades we’ve slowly eroded our holistic education into Maths, English and erm… maths and English with the odd bit of science thrown in.
If we had an extra three hours a day we could have more music, more art, more sports and in turn that would encourage children talented in these areas. Perhaps some language could be introduced and some cookery.
I hated it at school, but I can cook a basic nutritious meal for my family. All my daughters can cook several basic meals. Imagine how easier life would be if all children were taught food hygiene and cooking from an early age? We would have more chefs, more athletes, more musicians, more actors, we would have more children fulfilling their potential.
I read somewhere that children need to expend their energy for at least 45 minutes every single day. Imagine what could happen if we encouraged them to take up Hockey, athletics, football and they played for 45 minutes every day. Winning the world cup doesn’t look as impossible now does it?
But here’s the thing, all of our children should have these opportunities and not just the parents that take their kids football training three nights a week, every Saturday and every Sunday. We should make it so the scouts actively partner with the schools so that all the children who are interested in a sport get the chance to play it.
All our children should learn to read music, to create an instrument and sing. And there’s something about singing that makes us all feel good. Even if all we sing is off key and flat notes. All of our children should have music lessons and some will go on and become successful musicians. And this shouldn’t rest in the hands of parents that send their kids to piano tuition, this should be open to all of our kids.
At the moment our children are falling behind on the world stage, we are not doing enough to help them fulfil their potential, and we are failing as parents when we say things like “extra time learning just makes my child tired”. We only have to look to Europe to see how wrong we have it. In France the children start school earlier, have a half day Wednesday and go to school Saturday morning. Their Baccalaurate qualification (A-level equivalent) includes Art, Languages and other things as well as Maths, English and Geography.
I’ve never met a child that didn’t like creating – be it painting or crayoning – they’re creating. We need more people that create, we need more people that do, and we need less people telling us what we should…. let those that want to create, create and we need to actively encourage it. And an extra three hours a day means more painting, more art, more drawing, more getting messy. And of course our children enjoy this, to them it’s not work it’s fun and isn’t that what we want in life? We want work that feels like pleasure so we do more of it.
We know that an educated child is a socially mobile adult, they’ve more opportunities in life and even the most stressed executives get joy out of music, the arts and sport. We know that employers look at other activities on a potential employees CV, so let’s give our young adults the opportunity to share sportsmanship, community support and their passions in the workplace. How valuable an employee would they be?
And if they wanted to work for themselves? Let’s encourage that too, after all we have 6 weeks less holidays. Let’s teach them to meditate, how to think and let’s teach them the world is what they make it. Let a teachers role be to boost our child’s natural ability rather than pigeon-hole every child as being no good for anything after 3pm in the afternoon.
Not every child is going to be strong in every area, but when we encourage them to do more hours in school we have more time to nurture their skills and encourage new ones. We have time to invest in their future and in doing that, we also invest in ours.
Let’s give our children what they need, and not what the unions think their staff want or should have. Let’s make teaching a career that people want to do because its so rewarding and not because there’s a gold plated pension scheme and 13 weeks of leave. Let’s encourage the teachers who don’t want to teach longer hours to go and do what they really want to do with their life, and let’s draft in more teachers that are passionate and have them teach those extra hours. Let teaching be done in shifts like nursing and other jobs are.
Of course, none of this will happen in my lifetime. It won’t happen because we put the needs of the teachers before the needs of our children and our country. Perhaps that’s the right thing to do? I take my children to a tutor to help them with their reading as learning to read isn’t a priority (I have one of those pesky children with special needs that’s labelled naughty as it’s too much to support her), and I take them to martial arts, and soon they will have piano lessons and learn to read music. I say soon as I need to earn more money to pay for it.
But wouldn’t it be good if this kind of education didn’t come down to money? Wouldn’t it be good if all of our children had it?