Writing 101, Day 7: Let social media inspire you
Today’s prompt was to choose one of five possible tweets as inspiration for today’s post. Since I work in a primary school and am studying for a degree in English Literature, this one stood out to me the most. (I don’t use Twitter so hopefully I have been able to imbed this tweet into my post correctly.)
I am somewhat torn when it comes to education, I am a student of English Literacy; but mostly, I am a student of life. I love to learn new things, but admittedly, I tend to stick to the subjects I am most passionate about and those which are relevant to my life. As a result, I am often at a tug of war when teaching from the National Curriculum; a curriculum which, with its increasing demands and emphasis on Maths and Literacy, threatens to pigeon hole children and crush creativity.
Whilst I love my job and fulfil my role to the best of my ability, I often feel torn between doing what’s right for the children, and doing what’s expected of me in terms of the National Curriculum. So much pressure is placed on schools to meet the level of expectations in Maths and Literacy, that nurturing children’s inner passions and creativity are often pushed to one side. Children are quickly categorized into ‘lower ability,’ ‘middle ability’ and ‘higher ability’ groups based on their Math’s and Literacy results. I often find myself thinking; ‘Maybe those particular children do struggle with long division, and maybe they don’t know the difference between a verb and a noun – but has anyone noticed how well Alfie plays the drums? Has anybody else seen how intricate Libby’s drawings are and her care for detail?’
It does sadden me when children have to sacrifice their chance at creativity in favor of extra Math’s and Literacy. In an attempt to bring them up to scratch with the expected level of ‘standards’, they are taken out of lessons that aren’t viewed as ‘core subjects’, such as Art and Music. This isn’t just happening in the school I work in, it happens across the country. For all we know, Alfie could be the next Ringo Starr and Libby the next Beatrix Potter, but we won’t discover that yet because Alfie and Libby are too busy taking extra Maths and Literacy for us to nurture their God given gifts and talents.
It’s not that I don’t see the importance of Maths and Literacy, because I do; but is it really necessary for a child of eight and nine to be doing algebra and long division and calculations that are so difficult even the teachers are struggling to teach them? Surely teaching children how to save, to budget and how to handle their finances has more relevance in the real world? Take Literacy for example, is it necessary for children of primary age to know the difference between an embedded clause and a complex sentence? Or is it more important that they know how to express themselves without fear of forgetting to use the aforementioned? Or that they know how to write a letter or apply for a position in a workplace or college?
In my ideal world, all children would learn how to read and write and be taught basic Maths and Literacy at the start of each day, along with Physical Education. In the afternoons, those who wish to pursue further Maths or further Literacy are given that opportunity; those who wish to pursue Art, can, and those who wish to develop in Science or sport or languages or any other subject for that matter, can. So, in essence – an opportunity to enroll in subjects, with specialized teachers of that field, not just at college level, but at Primary level too – so that children have the freedom to explore the subjects they feel most passionate about and are encouraged to do so from a very young age. If we have the opportunity and skills to nurture our children’s inner passions and creativity whilst preparing them with valuable life skills for their future – why wouldn’t we do this? Why is the focus placed so strongly on Math’s and Literacy? Offering a varied curriculum would also open up job opportunities for parents and adults who can play music, coach sports, sew, paint, have published works etc Every one can get involved in shaping our children’s education and future – regardless of how good we are at Maths and Literacy.
When I read EJ Koh’s Tweet, I realise that I know nothing of the things I learnt in school, other than the subjects I was passionate about. I don’t remember how to do algebra, I don’t remember how to speak in French, but I do remember how to read and write; and that, for me at least, is enough.
What are your thoughts on how children should be educated?