Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shock Horror! Five-Year-Olds Can't Write Their Names!

The reactionary 'school standards' brigade are up in arms about a new report that shows that some five-year-olds can not write their own name.

Er, why is this such a big deal? The priority for kids in their first year of primary school should surely be that they are happy, settled, making friends, and developing the skills that will enable them to learn.

Instead, the government - egged on by the aforementioned reactionary 'school standards' brigade - is concerned only with their ability to pass regimented measures of achievement regardless of their personal development. It is a recipe for a generation of kids who may be able to write a list of key words, but may also be stressed, anti-social and able to learn only by rote and not by creative and critical thinking.

The report goes on to bemoan that many five-year-olds can not write a shopping list. A shopping list?! Why on earth would a five-year-old need to write a shopping list?! Going to despatch them to the local Tesco's for the family's weekly shop, are we? Er, no.

It's not that I'm against school standards. Heavens, no. It's just that my standards are different from those of the government or the Mail on Sunday. They are to do with children's well-being and rounded development, not just their ability to write 'oranges, pasta, coffee' at an age when they should actually be having fun.

Oh, and one more thing. If the government announced the necessary measures that would genuinely improve school standards - eg. better pay for teachers and support staff, more staff to teach smaller classes, more books and equipment etc - that would necessarily involve higher public spending, how do you think the Mail on Sunday would react?!

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