No room for slackers

I can’t help shuddering when I hear the over-used expression “the voice of the child”, implying that the opinions, needs and ideas of 11m+ individuals can be comprehensively represented by a focus group or three. Frankly, I’d take a pretty dim view of anyone who thought that they might glean what I wanted from a “voice of the woman” panel.

It’s the turn of young people now. Parmjit Dhanda is touring the country to listen to “the voice of youth”. He mentions:

“…a misapprehension about Government’s relationship with young people. We don’t just want to slap ASBOs on them – we want to give them a chance to release their potential and help them get involved in positive activities in their community. Overwhelmingly we find if you give young people the chance, they’ll exceed your expectations.”

Which seems to leave no room at all for young people to have their own expectations of not-particularly-worthy fun with their friends. Ed Miliband wants to:

“…engage them in a lasting dialogue and together improve the services available to help them unleash their potential”

And there’s more of the ‘future capital’ approach to children elsewhere in DfES, where £9m has been set aside for ‘early learning’:

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is trialling a new scheme to encourage parents to take a more active role in the education of their offspring by introducing learning diaries.

Currently being rolled-out across 41 councils in the poorer areas of England, the initiative will ask parents to record every example of their baby learning to do something, whether it’s toddling, stacking bricks or beginning to speak.

These learning diaries are designed for the parents of children aged between nought and five years old “so they can discuss progress with professionals”

Can’t the poor little devils just play? I realise my views may be rather extreme, having spent my children’s ‘early years’ refusing to buy any toy that so much as mentioned the word ‘educational’, but this dreary emphasis on learning and potential is so darned oppressive. It encourages four-fifths of the population to value the remaining one-fifth in terms of what can be squeezed out of them.

Is there any chance that adults might learn to share their power nicely? Maybe Whitney Houston could have a go at recording “Children are the Present”….OK, fair enough…perhaps not.


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