Thursday 31 March 2011

Educational Truancy

Forgive me for being somewhat cynical in response to this.

Why we shouldn't take our kids out of school during term

Yes, going on holiday in season is much more expensive, but we must teach children to respect their education

The point is that if we want our children to respect their schools, teachers and the place of learning in their lives, then we have to provide role models for that respect.
Well, let's talk about some of the activities undertaken recently by the little Puddlecotes at school, shall we?

Today, the boy has spent the entire day at a nearby theatre rehearsing for an evening choir performance - it's a culmination of weeks of in-class training in the vital skill of singing pop songs. This follows two fund-raising mufti days in the past couple of weeks, the focus of one being a full programme of having a right laugh and being 'educated' about Comic Relief. The other was less - for want of a better word - intense, but was capped with finishing at lunch in favour of a cake and book sale for visiting parents, with the kids as stall holders.

The girl has also been fully educated (for this year, at least) in X-Factor appreciation after weeks of preparing for a celebrity-studded concert at the O2 with thousands of others. The obligatory charity days were also observed.

Now, that may seem part of a well-rounded education, except that there isn't much meaningful education being added to the rounding, as regular readers will ably recall.

The boy most recently regaled me with how he had been instructed to write a rap song about the environment, whilst the girl was tasked with producing a poster advising on the dangers of smoking and drugs.

All of which makes me wonder what, exactly, we should be asking our kids to respect here.

But the point is that if you, as a parent, buy into the idea that school is where your child will receive a formal education (and you don't have to do that), then your support of the school is surely your end of the bargain.
Firstly, I do have to bloody well do that - they wouldn't know their times tables or spelling yet if I didn't top up their schooling with home tutoring (seriously, there are some in their - year 5 and 6 - classes who still don't). And secondly, I would support the schools fully if they weren't intent on ramming every piece of 'progressive' propaganda as far down the little Ps' throats as is biologically possible.

As I see it, they would learn almost as much with me on the flight to and from a week's holiday than they get from 5 days at school. Make the state school system better - or even fit for purpose if they're feeling saucy - and parents might consider it unmissable. Or, alternatively, give us the £3,780 per annum this 'service' costs; allow us to spend it with the school which competes and therefore educates most effectively; and watch how more valued the 190 school days become to parents.

I'm afraid, there's simply no excuse.
As things stand, I really, truly, vehemently, and aggressively, beg to differ.


Snowolf said...

The problem is though, Dick, that parents don't actually know anything about education. It's too complicated, or so I'm told.

No, it is much better to leave things like the curriculum to the politicians who have picked up invaluable experience about education by never having done anything except living in their party machinery.

How could anyone know better than them? Have they done internships, worked in think-tanks or been spin doctors? No, of course not.

Anonymous said...

Only thing wrong with your post, DP, is the £3780 figure. It's already well over £5,000 for primary and £8,000 for secondary.

So the next question is, how can so many, spending so much, achieve so little ?

BTS said...

'..the girl was tasked with producing a poster advising on the dangers of smoking and drugs.'

I am widely regarded as a poster child for the dangers of drugs, so if I can ever be of any assistance..

Dembones said...

I have taught many children, including my own, that teachers are not suitable role models, as generally they left school, went to University and then returned to school; others have been failures at their chosen professions and then decided to teach. There are very few left that are truly deserving of respect and role model status.

Anonymous said...

This is a conversation I had with one of the neighbours' kids while I was enjoying a gloriously hot and sunny evening in the garden in 2007. I was that enraged, I wrote it down:

LA: Can I swap?

Me: God no. I hated school.

LA: It's not so bad tomorrow, we've got Citizenship.

Me: You've got what?!

LA: Citizenship. It's quite good actually.

Me: What exactly do they teach you in 'Citizenship'?

LA: Lots really. Basically what being a citizen involves.

Me: And being a citizen involves...?

LA: Why we need to pay taxes and what it gets spent on, and what Mr. Blair does.

Me: And what exactly does Mr. Blair do?

LA: He runs the country.

Me: And you need lessons for all this?

LA: Well we learn about the justice system aswell.

Me: Do they teach you about fascism, 'the third way', the weapons trade and the like?

LA: About what?!

Me: No, didn't think so. Have you ever asked your tutor if they actually believe most of the things they tell you?

LA: Nah, I'm a good student. I just sit and do my work.

Jesus H. etc. etc...

Anonymous said...

I work with teachers, although I’m not one myself, and I have come to the conclusion that most of them are genuinely from another planet. They’re lovely people, don’t get me wrong, and have extraordinary knowledge of their specialist subjects, but when it comes to – well – just life, really, they honestly haven’t got a clue. Most of them are terrifically naive - rather like innocent children themselves - so asking teachers to regurgitate information pumped into them by what they see as “real” people who “know about life” is just too easy for politicians and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers to resist.

I’ve long said that, rather like politicians, no-one should be allowed to enter the teaching profession until they’ve had at least ten years of working in a “real” job in the “real” world and have developed the same healthy scepticism and mistrust towards “experts,” “the authorities,” “researchers” and those who claim to “know better” as the rest of us have.

Anonymous said...

My hats off to you to even have kids in this age. Teach them not to cross the street in front of a lorry going 100km. They seem to have forgotten that bit of input where I am from

Dick Puddlecote said...

Scan: Thanks for sharing that, it says it all really. Unfortunately, independent thought is frowned upon in the modern era, and kids not taught even a modicum of healthy scepticism IME.

It's curious that those who teach that the 'consensus' view is not to be challenged are the same ones who bemoan the fact that kids are so easily sucked in by scams and clever advertising. Well, if they were taught to think for themselves more, rather than being told to blindly accept what they see, read and hear without question, they'd be better prepared for life after schooling.

English Pensioner said...

An acquaintance down the road has her teen-age daughter at home for a couple of weeks or so following an operation which has temporarily restricted her mobility. But the girl was getting bored and her mother went to the school and asked if she could be provided with some work so that her daughter could keep up with the class.
The reply "Don't worry, if its only for a few weeks, she'll manage to catch up in a couple of days"
Somewhat different from my days at school, when even if one had just a day off, one was still struggling the next day.
The lady has now persuaded her daughter to read some of the classics which recent reports say are ignored by schools, and the daughter is doing so as it will provide her with "one upmanship".

Michael Fowke said...

Bloody hell! It sounds like your kids go to that Waterloo Road school on the telly.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 21:19: You're correct that the cost for schooling has increased since that link I quoted, so thanks for pointing out that my reference needed updating. But it's not quite as high as your figures according to this recent Lords answer.

£3,920 for primary, and £5,070 for secondary.

Dick Puddlecote said...

EP: Yep, that doesn't surprise me. The pace of learning certainly appears leisurely - to say the least - compared with the education previous generations experienced.

Sheila said...

"As I see it, they would learn almost as much with me on the flight to and from a week's holiday than they get from 5 days at school."

Almost as much???

The progressive propaganda is only going to get worse as The UNESCO Education for All agenda is rolled out.

This CFR link might imply this is about bringing basic education to children in third world countries who would otherwise have to toil in the fields all day.

Nope - they mean ALL and they mean Global.

I'm Scottish and that has influenced the areas I've researched but don't let that put you off - we're all being herded towards the same outcomes...

Here is the link to a seminar to disseminate the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010 in Scotland:,__education_for_all__gmr_%28scotland%29

And here is a post on our Curriculum for Excellence which Subrosa was kind enough to host:

On a brighter note - for the time being at least, school isn't compulsory :)

timbone said...

In the 1970's, my wife went to a state primary school. Her mother was a Sister in the NHS, and often had to take holidays during term time. It ruined my wife's education, in 1977 she won a scholarship to a top private grammar school.