There’s so much in the air about education at the moment. All this talk of ‘pushing’ and ‘stretching’ children makes it sound more like advanced aerobics than education. And, as Carlotta says, most of it is the ‘same old, same old.’
Being both a keen gardener and educator, I’ve always found the same sort of principles apply in education as in growing healthy plants: if you find the right place for a plant and concentrate on making the soil as good as possible (and avoid repeatedly digging it up to check on its roots) you can generally rely on it to flourish. A bit of propping up here, a quick spray of soapy water there, and Bob’s your uncle.
Before this blog fades out into the Archers’ music (and rather more seriously) I had another reminder today of just what torture school can be for some children. Via the National Autistic Society’s ‘Make School Make Sense’ site, I found this poem on a blog written by Joshua, a 16-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome.
It’s worth reading the whole of the NAS report on what’s happening in schools to children with autistic spectrum disorders (pdf).
A few years ago, I was asked to edit a book for and about families home educating children with ASDs. Having done a previous project with families who, by and large, were happily home educating through choice, I was stunned to meet so many people who had been driven out of the education system by its complete failure to accommodate their children’s needs and that had, in some cases, reduced their children to depressed, bullied, suicidal wrecks. It should be said that nobody regretted their decision to home educate, and the children had all made a full recovery, but it’s nonetheless dreadful that anyone should feel forced into a corner like that.
So, here we go again with another round of pronouncements and initiatives about education, fuelled by the secret fear that children will simply doss and watch TV if not constantly pushed, pulled, stretched, kicked and nagged. It’s probably risking ridicule to suggest that the prerequisites for learning are that children are confident, enthusiatic and happy.