Don't let your children join the clone army
Children are not all the same.
It seems such an obvious statement. But, embroiled in an education system that forces them to jump through the same hoops and a society that seeks to fashion a generation of clones, it is worth repeating.
This none-too-incisive observation really hit home to me at the weekend, when I was sitting in the sunshine on Cromer seafront with my wife.
Our youngest son was doing death defying front flips off the prom and trying to land on his feet on the sand a long way below. He succeeded – sometimes. And I wondered how a man who was defeated by the humble forward roll could play a part in producing him.
Meanwhile, next son up was closely studying a millipede that he had found on the beach.
Two boys with the same parents, yet with completely different tastes and abilities.
If that is true for them, it is equally true for every other child. They are all fashioned by God to be individuals, unique to look at and unique in the way they see and interact with the world around them.
So why do we try to force this myriad of human pegs into the same round hole?
Some elements of our education system typify how we are letting down our children.
The standard assessment tests (Sats) examine whether seven-, 11- and 14-year-olds know certain facts and can do certain things. Many schools, fearing the shame of a poor placing in the league tables, teach to the tests and assist in the cultivation of the army of child clones.
At GCSE, it is little better. There are precious few exam questions that give a 16-year-old the chance to show their passion for or breadth of understanding of a subject.
Instead, they are encouraged to regurgitate the same "facts" that their peers have to spew forth to make the grade.
And things can only get worse. My children have the English baccalaureate to look forward to. Whether or not they have a gift for particular subjects, they will be effectively forced to study them, along with every other student in a system that is becoming more like factory farming than education.
A top chef wouldn’t take Cromer crab, Morston mussels, hand-picked strawberries, Norfolk chutneys and samphire from The Wash and put it all in a blender to produce a soulless soup.
But successive governments have done just that with our unique children.
The situation is exacerbated by societal pressures on children to conform: to wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, like the same "stars", follow the same football teams and speak the same, like, garbled, like, language.
It all adds to the pressure on parents to swim against the tide to encourage our children to be non-conformist and individual.
I took rather too long to come to terms with one of my sons not enjoying the rough-and-tumble of a full-blooded football match, and giving up cricket because he didn’t fancy a hard ball fizzing towards his head.
You see, he wasn’t born to be a carbon copy of me.
As the external pressures bear down on them and seek to squeeze into preordained moulds, our children must be allowed to express their individuality.
There is one exception, though. I will never accept my sons’ liking for the mysoginistic, strutting rubbish that has wrongly been labelled "R&B". We owe it to our children to resist it.
posted on 05 July 2011 10:56 bySteve Downes