Burn the new national curriculum and let children be children
My heart sank when I saw the headline “tough new national curriculum” today.
Children as young as five are to learn fractions and computer coding. The prime minister describes the new curriculum as "rigorous, engaging and tough",
WTF. My mother, who enjoyed 35 years as a primary school teacher, would turn in her grave to see what education chiefs are doing to childhood. I feel like crying.
We have a lifetime of learning and work ahead – why pile the pressure on any earlier than we can avoid? What about having a primary curriculum that’s based on learning through play, nurture and exploring the natural world?
Instead of setting targets and stresses and turning children into little robots what about letting them live a little and become comfortable and happy in their own skin?
The new curriculum states that by the end of Year 2, pupils should “know the number bonds to 20 and be precise in using and understanding place value’” Err – I have no idea what that means.
My nine-year-old niece came home from school in tears recently after her teacher told her she needed to “turn-around” her maths performance. She is a hard-working, incredibly bright child and is acutely aware of the pressure to do well in SATS and other tests and it’s making her anxious already.
The change is based on former education secretary Michael Gove’s pledge that England should keep pace with the most successful education systems in the world. Piffle. If that were the case they’d be taking lessons from countries like Finland and Sweden which have high test results and graduation rates and enviable levels of well-being.
In many parts of Scandinavia children don’t start formal school till the age of 7, they rarely have homework or exams until well into their teens and aren’t measured at all for the first six years of their education. Yet they do very well.
By the time they’re 11 children here will have to “design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems”. Right. Who the f*** wrote this crap.
We have worrying levels of obesity and depression. What about an extra line in the curriculum that focuses on exercise, fresh air and forming healthy relationships with others.
Of course I want our little boy to grow into a man, to be interested in the world, engaged and hard-working. But I want him to be happy, to learn at the pace that’s right for him and to be protected from adult stresses and anxieties during his early years.
I don’t want him parked in front of a computer screen, his eyes going squarer by the minute so he can learn coding. I want him climbing trees, digging holes, running, playing, exploring and laughing.
Our national curriculum is stressing out teachers and eroding childhood – it’s counterproductive and it sucks.