Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Not interested in my child's school work

I am not a very good liar, which is one of the reasons friends consider me straight.

'The straightest man I know' is actually a copyrighted phrase by Dan Hughes, circa October half-term 2010.

Sometimes this trait serves me well, and at others, it leaves me wishing I had never even opened my mouth.

It was my son's parent consultation earlier this week, and it started like this:

Teacher: 'Well, do you have any questions, concerns or want to have a look at your son's work?'

Moi, glibly: 'No.'

Teacher: 'Right, err, well........

I could have pretended, made stuff up, asked all about Key Stage 1, but my answer – no – to that question, was genuine.

I don't have any concerns about my son at school, nor would I wait for a scripted scheduled opportunity to ask questions of the school or his teacher. Plus, only a week ago we'd enjoyed an afternoon at school where he shared all his school work with his attentive father.

The truth is I don't give a shit about how he does at school. I really just want him to be happy there.

And with his personality, I think that is a philosophy that will backhandedly get the most out of him.

The teacher went on to say how together my son is at school, very knowledgeable of the world around him, how he is confident, always willing to contribute and offering ideas and opinion clearly of his own mind.

None of this surprised me, but it was pleasing to hear.

I went on to explain to the teacher that if he did excel at a certain discipline, arithmetic or literacy for example, that I would ask the school to spend less time on these subjects with him, rather than push him in areas he is clearly already adept in.

Broaden his mind, not centering it on the subjects he happens to be 'good' at.

There seems an obsession that if children, even at really tender ages, show an aptitude for one of the three Rs, that they are pushed, and pushed hard to be better at them.

I appreciate that children need to be stimulated at school in order to enjoy it, and avoid boredom. But rushing them in narrow, albeit traditionally valued and intrinsic disciplines, means that you are only delaying the point at which disinterest occurs. Either when a child plateaus or when there is literally no higher level for them to go to, last year of each school they are at for example.

There's also the case of children then losing confidence as new subjects are introduced, when suddenly they are no longer top of the class.

Schools' motivation for pushing children must also come into question, as I have heard all sorts of stories from 'educational professionals' such as a child that achieves a certain 'level' early can have that result counted the year they achieve it, as well as the year they should have, thus producing better overall results for an education establishment.

My view is not common, certainly not on our playground, but I couldn't be more genuine about it.

Parents argue with me that if Max was really good at the core subjects my opinion would differ, and thereby, by doing so, demonstrate how they do not know me at all

The only possible set of circumstances I might look at pushing him in core skills, is if I thought he was unhappy because he was struggling with them. But that's unlikely to happen as I see it, and even in those circumstances, I may focus on why he gives a shit about being good at skills that are useless on their own.

It's all about what you do with what you've got, rather than simply what you've got.

It is for me.

And to emphasise my point I always use the analogy of Stephen Hawkin.

One of the world's greatest minds.

And precisely where would he be without his techno, and thus his ability to process his knowledge to great use?

Great minds are fucking pointless on their own.