I may be showing my age just a tad but my primary schooling took place before the advent of the National Curriculum in the UK. I remember it being introduced but it didn’t seem to impact me very much. I went to a truly tiny primary school in a small village in England. It was a very religious little school and our daily routine can pretty much be summarised as:
• Before morning break – listen to the story of the Saint of the Day, tell that story in your own words. This was every single day…
• After morning break – PE, maths maybe some more writing, making pictures
• Lunch – lunch breaks seemed to be hours and hours long (is that a rose tinted spectacles thing?!)
• After lunch – spellings, spelling tests then... if it was sunny, or at least dry... ditch the classroom and play rounders – YES!
• Last 30 minutes of every day – story time!
It was BRILLIANT.
But then, when I come to compare, my sons love their school and are laying down some equally joyous childhood memories. Sometimes I, like many parents, wonder if schools have become academic too early, too intense. Where is the room for fun? Is it all too much too soon? But then I see Finn taking such pride in his knowledge of obtuse and acute angles (I distinctly remember my own pride in using a protractor for the first time at secondary school, age 11!). He tells me misses “absolutely everything” about school now it is closed. The theme days, the lovely teachers, music, PE, funny assemblies, ICT – his list is long and he misses the whole package. Caveat: not the tie or the blazer. He DOES NOT miss them.
It is clear that he and his lovely classmates are way ahead of little me age 9 and I suspect many of you are feeling the same. How on earth do teachers today get our children to acquire so much knowledge, so many skills and yet still have the utter joy in learning that I did in my eccentric little village school?
I’m not really sure what the answer is, but it is definitely another layer of skill and expertise to add to those which, three weeks in to online learning, we all now have a better understanding of (and, hopefully, a deeper appreciation for).
Not only do teachers today ensure that our children receive a great quality education, they do a fantastic job of instilling a joy in learning too. I’m not sure that is a skill that can be taught on any teaching degree course, but I’m very, very grateful that my children’s teachers have it.
Despite being more solitary, despite losing so many of the things that make school ‘school’ my kids are still excited to learn, still laughing at the funny things their teachers say and still enjoying a very varied and interesting curriculum. We’re trying to teach them rounders at home but it’s not nearly as much fun as I remember…
The team at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have spent much of the last few weeks watching how schools have transformed themselves into virtual schools overnight.
It’s clear that not only have teachers had to bear the same worry and anxiety as we all have over the Covid-19 crisis, but they’ve had to simultaneously acquire a host of new tech skills, teach, support parents and maintain incredible positivity and enthusiasm in among it all. That they have done it with such good grace in the face of intense scrutiny, and sometimes criticism, is really something else.
Teachers have gone from being teachers in a bricks and mortar school to being virtual teachers, vloggers, live TV presenters and parent coaches in lighting quick time. There are probably other professions that could have done the same, but at the moment I’m at a loss to think of one. Bravo, teachers!
Jenny Mollon, Home School Mum and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Senior Editor