Turning education on its head

We are fast rushing towards that time of year when children will either return to education or start it for the first time. Which means that the long period of the summer holidays is coming to an end.

Parents will be preparing their children for the new academic year with uniforms, ‘school shoes’, sports clothes and all of the other materials required by the academic institution.

For some parents the first day back at school will not have come soon enough so that they can get back to leaving the development of their children to school staff, nurseries, child-minders, after school clubs and various artistic or sporting clubs.

The standards that these parents will set the staffs of these various institutions will be exacting and the parents will be quick to complain if the standards are not met to their satisfaction.

However, how many of these parents will stop and evaluate their performance in assisting their child’s development? Of course, parents will quickly point to the amount of money they have spent on their children and the wonderful places that they have taken their children during the holiday.

But how much of this is about assuaging guilt, how much is because it is a quick solution in a materialistic world and how many of the trips were for them as much as for the child?

If parents really understood the world that their children are growing up in then they would surely do things differently. Their children are going to grow up in a world where creativity and imagination are going to be critical to future success.

Yet they persist in using the same single stream approach that was developed at the time of the Industrial Revolution to mass educate children from rural areas so that they could work in factories.

Parents are often no better when it comes to presents. It has long been held that children get more fun out of the box than for the gift. The reason for this is that the gift usually only has one way of working whereas the box offers a multitude of activities.

Despite living miles away, my granddaughter has endless pleasure pretending that hair clips are food and that the nearby cupboard is either a refrigerator or a cooker depending on what she is cooking. Obtaining similar hair clips at my location can mean that she is able to create endless ‘meals’ and to feed me in a different country as if by magic.

If parents really want to help develop their children then the best place to do it is down on the floor or in the garden with everyday objects that can, through a child’s imagination, become something magical.

When I was a child, the wall outside the back door was a horse, the carpet put out to air was a saddle and two fingers were a cowboy gun. I didn’t need expensive toy guns or riding lessons for an hour a week. I could ride the range daily in my own imagination.

Children do not get stimulated by expensive single use toys, computer electronics or by the good Ofsted report of a school. Children need to have their imaginations stimulated. This does not take money; it takes time and it takes parents who also have an imagination.

In reality, by stimulating the imagination of your child, you may just stimulate your own and that may be crucial in surviving in the years ahead. Wouldn’t it be an irony if by doing so we turn education on its head and let the children become teachers and the teachers and parents become the pupils?


I thought that I had finished this blog until I read the newspaper. Despite all of the information available on the benefits of play, a Yorkshire Council is planning to spend £10 million to remove playgrounds. The politically correct reasoning behind this move is that the playgrounds discriminate in favour of 3 – 7 year olds! Seems like the start of another blog next week

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