Ken Robinson says straightforwardly: a modern school kills children’s creativity. Millions of people have already raised this point and the arguments they put forward in their speech at the TED conference. In his book “You, Your Child and School”, published in the USA by the Element Publishing House, he writes much more and much more. Not only about creativity and not only about education or school, but also about all the important issues that modern parents of school-age children worry about. Today we publish selected excerpts from the book and encourage you to read it all.
Ken Robinson “You, Your Child and School” – excerpts from the book
I work in education throughout my career. On the way I had countless conversations with my parents about the school. I am a parent myself and I know from experience that this role is both a challenge and a pleasure. It becomes more difficult when children start school. Until then, we were the ones with the greatest responsibility for their development and well-being. Now we can entrust a significant part of their active lives to other people, thus enabling them to have a huge impact on our children’s lives at a crucial time in their development.
The sight of children going to school for the first time evokes different emotions in us. We hope that they will be passionate about learning, that they will have good friendships, and that they will be happy and inspired at school. At the same time, we probably feel quite anxious. School is a new relationship. How will our children react to the teachers? Will their special talents be recognized at school? What about other parents and children? Will our child overcome new social obstacles or stumble upon them?
It’s no wonder that when our child first goes to school, he or she feels a goulash in his or her throat. We think that nothing will look like it used to be. And we are right.
All parents are worried when they hand over their children to strangers, but in our times the school is even more worried about them. Many people are irritated by what is happening in education. They are concerned that there are too many tests and stress at school. They feel that the curriculum of artistic, sporting and outdoor activities has been narrowed down. They are concerned that their children are not treated individually and that teachers are not able to develop their interests, creativity and talents. They are sometimes concerned that so many children are diagnosed with learning difficulties and given medication so that they can concentrate. They are concerned that someone may abuse their children. If they have children in secondary school, they are hit by the rising cost of studying at university and by whether or not their children get a job afterwards, regardless of whether they study or not. What is more, they often feel so powerless in their role as parents that they are unable to do anything about it all.
It is said that it takes an entire village to raise a child. It certainly takes a whole village to educate them. In the previous chapter, I mentioned that teaching and learning are similar to gardening and that young people learn best under certain conditions. These conditions are part of a larger ecosystem in education. It is composed of you and your family, your community and a number of other people and organisations responsible for what is happening in education. As a parent, you may be most interested in educating your children, but you may be unfamiliar with teaching issues. In each case, you have four ways of influencing education and the people responsible for it: you can establish direct contact with teachers, get involved in school life, take part in school management and act in the wider policy on education.
Working with teachers
As a parent, you have the right to know what your children are doing at school and how they are doing, and to raise issues that may affect their learning progress. Usually, schools have two ways of maintaining contact with parents: by using notes with grades at the end of a semester and at meetings.
Seemingly, meetings with parents provide free space for teachers, parents and students to comment and make further plans. In practice, meetings can become very stressful events and resemble a series of short, accusing conversations in which more is understated rather than said. Meetings for some parents are one of the few occasions when they come to school at all. Meanwhile, under the surface it can be full of emotions, not all of which are edifying.
Why can meetings be stressful? One reason is that they are rarely organised – maybe three or four times a year – usually when you need to give away rating cards. If a school meeting is held spontaneously, it is usually due to a problem, which increases the tension.
Some parents have no other choice but to meet in passing at the school door.