Thursday

Parents who need parenting and dumbing down – tales from the education front line.

I have come across some notes I made a few months ago about some things said by a head of a primary school in London and his assistant head. The school does well but the head was emphasising that he has no control over the intake. Local people have priority and he has to turn away parents who are desperate for their children to come to the school. In their place he must take children of parents who don’t care much.

On the surface, the school is calm but he has to work as hard as 10 years ago, when he started, to keep it that way. There are plenty of problems – often involving parents who make emotional, unreasonable demands. He says the proportion of parents who are inarticulate has increased.

He said that we, the teachers, a lot of the time feel we are ‘parenting the parents’. They want to know about what time the children should go to bed and what to feed the children. He exclaimed that he just did not have time to do this.

He says that ‘fitness is a huge issue’. I suppose he meant that the children are very unfit. The school itself obviously has a role in combating that but I guess state schools have limited time for sport. A pity.

The assistant head remarked that he had come across one of those charming old Ladybird books. It was on a historical subject. These were simple books with lots of pictures. The book said it was for 8 or 9 year-olds. That would have been in the 1950s, probably. He said the content was ‘richer’ than history textbooks for 14 year-olds now.

One piece of good news on the curriculum: ICT will cease to be a separate subject. Its use will be embedded in the curriculum. Thank goodness for that. It is absurd at the primary level. The technology will completely change by the time they grow up. In any case, computer technology is a tool, not a subject in itself except for those who may want to pursue careers in it.

  1. In Japan, hard work and the parents are important in education. Maybe we should try these things.
  2. The fallacy in the ‘front line services’ idea
  3. An education organisation that leaves schools without head teachers is incompetent
  4. Why poor parents in Miami send their children to a private school
  5. Italy used not to pay lone parents much. Lo and behold, there were very few lone parents.
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