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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why Schools are Bad for Young Children

A few years ago, I was in Prague and made a visit to my favourite garden there, Vojanovy Sady, the former kitchen garden of a convent or monastery, just down from the Castle.

A young mother was observing her daughter at work: the child,probably not much more than a year old and with a very large nappy, held a small basket in one hand and with the other was painstakingly picking up magnolia leaves from the grass, one by one, and transferring them to the basket. This involved the child in squatting, standing up, and toddling - all of them quite clearly recently acquired skills. It was going to take a long time to fill that basket, only half full when I chanced on the scene, but the child was determined - she got up every time she fell down - and the mother was unobtrusive and patient. The child's work would have continued until that basket was full but for a group of noisy teenagers who spilled onto the grass and sent the child scurrying to her mother.

Young children are capable of extraordinary concentration which is the public face of their extraordinary learning ability. It lasts until they go to primary school.

There teachers set out to destroy the capacity, endlessly moving children from one task to the next, and keeping up an incessant flow of their own talk - that weird teacher-talk which always sounds a bit mental. Teachers turn children into neurotics in their own image.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reminded of the 8 year old I once taught. He was of average ability but had an exceptional knowledge of the natural world. When I asked him how he had learned so much, he said 'When I go home from school, I sit still in the garden and watch everything that is happening there.'