I was going to call this blog post ‘The Destruction of Childhood’, but I figured that might be a bit over the top. Mind you, it’s not far off what I’m feeling right now as a parent, and as someone who has many friends who are parents. In our brave new world, children have become a commodity: something to be measured, and compared against one another. Which one is best? How quickly is he moving? Why isn’t she moving faster? How about if we give them more hours in school, that’ll move them along more quickly? These questions are so completely irrelevant to me that it feels as though I’ve jumped into a parallel universe.
But then I go out into the real world, and I talk to other teachers and parents, and I realise that I’m not alone. I look at my own children, and I revel in the long summer break: playing in the mud, swimming in the sea, spending time with family and at late night Festas in Portugal. I don’t think: ‘Do you know enough yet?’ I think: ‘Are you happy?’ I know that the reason why children don’t move forwards as fast as you might like comes from a hugely complex mixture of background factors. Yes, these include poverty and deprivation and all the gaps that brings, but they also include disabilities, and learning needs, and many, many other challenges.
If you want, you can fill the comments thread below with all sorts of arguments about how I am an enemy of promise and how I am promoting low expectations. It’s fine, please, feel free. Because I would still feel completely confident in what I have written above. I don’t want to squash children into a system. I want to look at them and go: ‘I wonder what would happen if we follow that child? Yes, even that one.’ If you feel something different, then so be it.
“I denounce these proceedings.” Go hang me.