Education is a subject dear to my heart and I will state at the outset that I think we have got the education of our children all wrong! Our schooling tends to stifle creativity and personality and is more about containment. My personal view is that we should tear up our state education policy and start again, from the very beginning.

We bear and grow our children – amazing wonderful small people, full of potential and curiosity. We encourage them to try new things, experiment and learn and then we go about the process of limiting them, obliging them to conform to societal ‘norms’ – rather than using their own innate curiosity to discover all about the world and how it works…

Our education systems majors on academic achievement – as though that one dimension of human experience is more important than all others. I beg to differ! I believe it is equally important that each and every one of us discovers the other truly remarkable talents within us, and for children that could be an ability to stand on one foot, jump, run, paint, make music, tell stories, hunt insects – you get my gist I hope. The way we educate our children quickly gives them a sense that they are not ‘good enough’ or ‘less able’, but I sincerely believe that every human has some talent that makes them special, that makes them a world beater…

For each person to discover their potential they need the freedom to explore everything, not just the narrow range of subjects that school offers them.

So, what do we do until the revolution?!

Of course we need to work within the society in which we live. Our children go to school, often we are rather glad to be able to pack them off for many hours a day where they will be occupied and we can have breathing space (or work)! This is natural, normal behaviour. But, bearing in mind that we have sole responsibility for how our children experience the world, what sort of people they grow into; then we also have a responsibility to offer them as wide an experience of ‘this world’ as we are able. This takes time, energy and commitment – it is certainly not the easy option!

Pre-schoolers

If we spend some time every day at a child’s level, wide eyed with wonder, we can see and explore all the things that can be fascinating to them – stones, leaves, insects, water, mud, noise – the list is endless. There’s no real need to ‘explain’ these things. But there is a need to ‘explore’ them. It can also be fun after you get over the whole ‘messy’ worries!

School age children

Once the children are at school you can talk about whatever is interesting to them, from a different or wider perspective from what they are being taught by their teachers. For example if history is the current interest – we can find evidence of history all around us, and even travel to ‘sites’ of historic interest. Just think of the age of many of the old flinty stones we may find in a forest, or even bits of willow crockery we find when digging up the garden…

Essentially what I am saying is that our children are worth the extra effort of real communication with them, of listening to their questions, firing their interest, and seeing the world through their young, less jaded or cynical eyes.

You may enjoy this clip which is very much in accord with what I believe. Our life is for living, not conforming or doing!

Marilyn Griffin