I’m a big fan of high expectations. I understand that we need to set clear boundaries for children. I’m a parent, I write books on this, and my children get green certificates for good behaviour. (Go me.) But being consistent is not about being inflexible. We can aim for the same place, get to the same end, using different approaches for different children. If we take the time to understand each person, we can help them figure out the best thing to do. This is not about letting them get away with misbehaving, or saying that you should not be consistent with consequences. It’s about using a different tone of voice, or taking them to one side, or talking things through, so that they might do something different instead. My pumpkins don’t need the same conditions as my carrots, because they react better to different things. All I’m really after is growth. I need to keep that in mind.
Not everyone in society has the same advantages as me. Some days it is tough to be a parent even in a lovely home, with food on the table, and enough time to hang out on my allotment. I do the wrong thing all the time. How much harder must it be for other people? When we work with children, we mustn’t forget that ‘being a child’ was a thing for us too, way back when. Remember what it felt like, to be small and confused. We shouldn’t overlook our adult frailties, either. We’re all human, in the end. I would love it if we could think of education as a chain, where we all work together, supporting each other to do the best for our children. It would be great to stop arguing, and start looking for points of connection rather than points of difference. Because children are not a problem to be solved – mostly the way forwards is obvious, if frequently not simple, cheap or easy to do. If we keep passing children down the line, eventually they reach the end of it and fall off.
A chain, on the other hand, is often circular.