The mid-October battle of nature versus nurture

So, the big issue for us this week funnily enough has nothing to do with teachers, but more so the only other most important people within the education sector, even more so than teachers. The children.

A new legislation has given schools extra freedom in enrolling two-year-oldsas pupils – hence registering them officially and thus phasing out the former ‘pre-school’ take on the matter. Supposedly this is ‘designed to drive up the standards of early education’. It’s not a surprise that this has happened, as the attack on the Tories’ ‘structural’ methods last week has consequently pushed for a policy that can prove said methods are indeed the most effective. But, apparently childcare experts are warning that children need a more ‘natural’ approach to education early on rather than being thrown straight into the deep end at such an age. It is indeed a matter of nature versus nurture and is one to be taken seriously.

On the one hand we have the DfE and Sir Michael Wilshaw who believe early years institutionalization, also known as ‘schoolifying’, is experience needed to make sure children are ready for education come the age of five. On the other, we have for example, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, who believes this is merely another irresponsible plea to simply cut costs – pointing out that many schools lack the relevant expertise in order to adopt to such a change in the first place.

In all fairness, Leitch has a point. Family-life, amongst many other things, is now under-threat. Surely children at this age should not be dropped off to an unfamiliar environment at god knows what time in the morning and have to risk, say, the trauma of their parents being late to pick them up. Countries that are doing better than us in this field are renowned for allowing their young’uns more time before jumping into education. Yes, they too have a different approach regarding teaching methods – which may or may not contribute to the overall success rate in said countries – but the point is there are things children learn from their parents that no university specialist could ever dream of teaching. Even a little methodological diversity can inspire pupils to think and fend for themselves rather than simply be forced into following the doctrines of a supposed ‘think thank’.

For example, Sir Ian McKellin visited a school in Bristol this week and much like he did in those classic Tolkien films, he put on his wizard-face and aided in “promoting human rights, opposing bullying and in particular challenging homophobic language and behaviour in school”. The children’s faces when he warned them that they “shall not pass” goes to show that such a gesture can be enough inspiration to keep them revising. A role model to look up to is better than a model to enrol on. Famous wildlife expert Safari Pete has even showed up at Hampton and Danmead with his mobile zoo for National Biology Week this week. It is the things that education can lead to that inspires our children at this age and perhaps not education itself. So why then are we not utilizing said methods and expanding on these variables – but are instead choosing to turn our kids into robots before they could ebe fathom the idea of what a robot actually is?

It would make them dependant upon authority from a young age and in that respect it is nothing less than mere institutionalization and another cautious step in “saving money”. I mean, if recent studies by Ofsted themselves suggest that pumping more cash into Physical Education, for example, can help tackle obesity, than surely funding a more parent-orientated educational methodology for two-year-olds can be just as effective? We choose to be cogs in the works of our very system but surely our kids should not be exposed so early on?

I for one believe encouragement serves as a more appropriate approach to education than enforcement.

What do you think?