Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Closure of Schools

Margaret Morrissey, of Parents Outloud, thinks that closing schools at the first sign of snow teaches our children to give up easily. "“We are giving children the message that when things get difficult you should just stay at home and have fun..” (I might also add, snidely, that if Margaret Morrissey devoted some time to learning how to use the apostrophe instead of acting as a modern Mrs Gradgrind, it might not be a bad thing.)

It seems a terribly joyless way of viewing the world. Work, work, work and then a bit more work when you've finished. Poor things: whatever one might think of the ease or otherwise of exams now, our children are relentlessly pushed towards them, with more pressure in a year than I experienced in my whole school career. Is it so very terrible to have a day or two off from the grind, and actually enjoy yourself? In something that happens in Britain very, very rarely?

My daughter's maths set have to do their latest test again after they all did terribly badly, and I don't think that's teaching them to give up at the first opportunity. I have to say that as someone who was born a Bruce, I've always been quite keen on the spider fable and all that it stands for and have a distinctly brisk attitude to any child tempted to give up on anything. My children know the spider fable by heart. Robert the Bruce is one of the few Ladybird books we've kept.

And life is not as it was when I was small in the 1960s. Then I was very unusual because I had a working mother. Most mothers were at home. Most teachers lived in the town (see Juxtabook's blog for the reason why most of them don't now). The town then had not had huge housing estates tacked onto it and no-one was that far from the school. There weren't the logistical difficulties that schools face now. My children's school has a huge catchment area: we live 20 miles away, and the school takes children from three counties. However easy it was for the teachers to get there, if it snowed, an awful lot of children who rely on school buses and the train would have found it difficult to get home. Closing the school seemed, to me, to be quite understandable.

In actual fact, mine could have made it in quite easily yesterday, had the school been open, but daughter spent the day in the field with her friends, building Ronald the Snowman (once daughter has downloaded her photos I'll post them), having snowball fights, and gossiping. It's dreadfully ironic actually that daughter spent such a time in the field. When we had our horsy lodgers, I couldn't have dragged her there.

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