Friday, October 12, 2007

Loss of childhood

So our 7-11 year olds are stressed and depressed by having to live in a violent, materialistic and celebrity-obsessed society, where they don't even feel safe to walk the streets. Meanwhile, worried middle-class parents are adding to the pressure by pushing them to private tutors, in an attempt to get them into one of the few decent schools around or make up the learning deficits of the state system.

Well, what a surprise. They didn't need to do a big research project to learn that, they could just have spoken to me and my friends. We have watched all this happening before our eyes as our own children, now in their last year of compulsory schooling, have grown up.

It is scary. Whatever we do as parents does not seem to be sufficient to prepare our kids for what lies ahead.

Three notable things:

1. I've written about 800 words over the last two days as well as having some new plot ideas.

2. We sat waiting for son 1's therapist for almost half an hour this morning because the receptionist forgot to phone up and tell her we'd arrived...

3. My copy of Mslexia finally arrived in the mail...


Anonymous said...

I was listening to this on the news earlier. Whatever will they come up with next? Up here, schools are few and far between, let alone good schools. I've got Amy into a good mainstream first school but who knows what the future will bring? Don't you think all this depression begins at home? Keeping up with the Jones's etc?

Well done on your writing and ideas. I've had one of my own today. Sack the receptionist and how did you get mail! I think they've forgotten we exist.

Crystal xx

Cathy said...

I think things are very different here in outer London, Crystal. Some kids really are scared to go out and about because of the gangs,bullying and drug pushing which go on both in and out of school, as well as dangerous traffic.

We are not pushy parents, but many are as there are more options. We let son 1 go to the local comprehensive and look what happened.

I agree that the materialism/consumerism largely comes from home, as well as family dysfunction. But that is not all of the picture and in my experience schools are only too ready to blame home for everything when they should also be looking at what is going on under their own roof.

Oh and we've had mail since Weds but not much so I think there must be lots more in the system!


Marla said...

Our daughter sees a great tutor to help with math. We use Lindamood Bell Learning for that so I need some help teaching her. Other than that I am convinced I am the only parent in our town who does not have their child in even one activity! I think it is ridiculous the amount of stuff people push their kids into these days. When I lived in Jersey one family had their daughter in seven activites! She was busy every day of the week. I felt sorry for that kid.

Cathy said...

Marla, our kids have only ever done things they enjoyed and then only one or two activities a week. I don't want to be a taxi service all the time!

Casdok said...

Yes im just out side London, and the kids are scared, and so are the parents.
It is a huge topic.

Lane Mathias said...

This is a minefield Cathy.
Children and teachers are under enormous pressure in primary school purely because of the curriculum which is adhered to with venom. There's no respite. I've heard teachers say that they would love to chat with the children freely for a morning about their weekends/ worries whatever but because of the daily targets which have to be ticked and recorded this is impossible. They're on a treadmill.
I've had children in both state and private and I've taught too (although older kids).
I have to say that the situation is slightly more relaxed in private because they don't fall under the same governing body. (It can throw up a whole load of other problems though).
There's a very fine line between educating them well and exhausting them for the sake of government statistics or in the hope that they will get into 'a good school'.

Cathy said...

Lane, I agree it is a minefield. I come from a family of teachers, I know all about the problems and actually I don't blame most of the teachers on the ground.

Perhaps we have just been unlucky but having ourselves been educated in the state system, we trusted it. Financially, because I am a carer, private education was not an option for Son 1 anyway.

He is a quiet, law-abiding child with a few mild specific learning disabilities, which secondary school refused to recognise (he was doing very well with a little additional input from school at key stage two). He and his class were emotionally abused by the form teacher in the last year of middle school. He was persistently bullied in secondary school and fears meeting the perpetrators on the street. Drugs were being pushed in lessons, he was too traumatised go to school or even have one to one teaching.

He now has a severe mental illness and no education, but frankly we are lucky he is still alive. Other children I know are having to attend afterschool classes held in school by devoted teachers to help them catch up with GCSE coursework because there is no time to work with quiet children in class, due to troublemakers. The headteacher is obsessed with boxticking and statistics. She has no people skills with either staff, pupils or families. I could go on.

Round here parents who can afford to go private. Many more use private tutors, Saturday schools etc or send their children out of borough to selective state schools if they are lucky enough to win a place. Their children are under constant pressure.The irony is that 19 years ago we chose to live in this borough due to its high reputation for state education!!

Lane Mathias said...

Aw Cathy, I feel for you - and your son. That's a rough ride.
When we lived in London we were in the borough of Newham and then Waltham Forest which had some excellent state schools. Outside of school though, it was a different matter:-(

All the very best to you and your son.