I fear that this weeks blog may be seen as what my husband would call "A Rant"!!! Is it strictly to do with dyspraxia? No. Is it relevant to how our children learn and develop. Yes. Hope you enjoy!
This week on my personal Facebook feed a friend shared an article regarding the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan. It referred to comments she had made towards the end of last year, in which she applauded those students choosing to study 'the Sciences'. Nothing wrong with that. Of course the sciences are valuable, essential; without them we would not be making the great technological and medical strides characterising our nearly new century. The sciences open many brilliant doors and lead us on fascinating adventures. So, yes Ms Morgan the sciences are amazing.
But then the article turned dark, then my blood began to boil, then the air around me turned a little bit blue and the dog ran for cover. Because in the same polished and authoritative speech Ms Morgan proceeded to inform students who had chosen to study 'the Arts' that their choices 'could hold them back for the rest of their lives'. Apparently maths is the is the subject that future employers value most and studying the arts limits career choices.
My message to you Ms Morgan? How very dare you? How dare you as someone who is supposed to lead and shape the education system of this country, and therefore help to define the experience and education for a generation of children, make such a sweeping and generalised statement as if were carved in a tablet of stone?
What gives you the right to consign a whole raft of students to second best, because their skills, passion and strengths do not fit what you and your recent think tanks have deemed to be this years desired model?
Do you really think that people can pick what they are good at? There are few people in this world who are genuine all rounders, who are blessed with true brilliance in every academic area. For most of us mere mortals our strengths pick us and not the other way around. I have four Moglets, two of whom have a specific learning difficulty, all of whom have vastly different strengths and challenges. From the day he was born Moglet Number 1 has had "the Arts' running through him like a stick of rock. I can think of nothing more soul destroying and cruel than to tell my wonderful creative, artistic son that he should ignore every fibre of his being, give up all things that make him shine and smile and pursue a career based on the sciences. Moglet Number 3; a scientist all the way and good for him. Neither is right, neither is wrong, they are both true to themselves.
This ridiculous article, based on this ridiculous speech, delivered by this ridiculous woman, who followed a truly ridiculous man sets so many alarm bells ringing for me, both as parent and teacher. It seems to be one step further towards a 'one size fits all' education system. A system that masquerades behind words such as ' fair', 'rigourous' ' accountable' , when in truth it is anything but. We are back again to that old cliche that equal does not mean fair. That giving exactly the same support to each child is not enough. Helping the individual child, - note the emphasis on the word individual- achieve their potential takes skill. It is not about herding children in the same direction, its not about teaching them all the same things and seeing which ones learn and which ones fail. It means taking to time to recognise that all children are unique. That they all learn in different ways. That they all have strengths and they all have weakness. It's about taking time to get to know them and work out how we can nurture and grow those talents and support their weakness. Every single child has something they bring to the table, no matter how small or diverse. Every child has something to teach us. The most important part of our role as educators, and our true skill, is identifying what that something is and nurturing it.
Of course there have to be ways to measure progress and show the future employers and further educators how well our children have done. There will always be a need for assessments and exams, that is unavoidable and indisputable. But the paths our children travel to reach these milestones do not have to and should not be the same. And performance in these assessments is one part of a child's journey, it should not be what defines them forever more.
Identifying, appreciating and nurturing the child as an individual not a 'cohort' shows far more rigour, fairness and accountability than anything our most recent Education Secretaries have proposed. Is it an easy route to take? Of course not. Is it a cheap route? Again, no. Yet it's benefits are more far reaching and long term than ease and frugality. Imagine for a moment a world where everyone felt they had something to offer, where their talents were recognised and used? Utopia? Quite possibly, but surely something to aspire to.
By not embracing and recognising everyone's talents, by not taking the time to scratch the surface and see beyond the ordinary, by denying support to those who need it the most, we are taking a huge risk. We are throwing away potential untapped talents that could provide us with a whole new perspective on the world. The ability to solve world hunger or cure childhood disease could be hiding somewhere in our classrooms, squandered because we are following one path and ignoring others.
Thank the Lord for teachers who follow their instincts and go that extra mile. Who look beyond the constant criticism and ever changing frameworks and expectations and look at the children in their care and teach. My children owe you all a great debt of thanks, future employers and unborn children owe you their futures. So thank you.
I am a Mum of four fantastic children (or Moglets), one of whom just happens to have Dyspraxia.
P.s The RSS Feed button is the FOLLOW button!!! In case you are technically challenged like me!! Or follow us on Twitter: @rmc19
or like our
Facebook page www.facebook.com/herdingmoggies
Click to set custom HTMLFollow