Today it is 3rd May and the day when lots of parents have taken an amazing stand against our government and what they are doing to education in this country.
The wonderful movement Let Kids Be Kids (here on Twitter and here on Facebook) has seen a small community of parents grow into a National campaign to protect the welfare and well being of our children.
And despite what Nicky Morgan said about this campaign being about ignorant parents trying to damage their children’s education, it is actually the opposite. It is about parents and many hundreds, even thousands of teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and education unions standing up for their children. It is about these people saying that Nicky Morgan’s model of education is fundamentally flawed and that it is damaging the well being of the children they are raising and teaching beyond measure.
It is about these people having to use a last resort of taking time off work to keep their children off school because the government will not listen in any other way.
It is about people being the opposite of ignorant. It is people knowing their children and knowing that learning does not always happen in the same way for every child, in the same environment and definitely not on a piece of paper which decontextualizes everything.
So what can we teach our children by keeping them off school today?
We can share a book and teach them, not just to read themselves, but to enjoy reading and to relate reading to cuddles with Mum or Dad or Nanny or Grandpa.
We can go on a scavenger hunt. We can find things in nature and talk about how they grow, where they live, what they need to survive. Because, Nicky Morgan, it’s all well and good putting the emphasis on maths, reading and writing but there are qualifications to be gained later on in life in other subjects you know. And whilst these will require a good grasp of reading, I doubt a science GCSE hinges on the identification of a fronted adverbial.
We can go to the shop. We can give our child pocket money and let them decide what to spend it on. We can let them choose which coins to use and work out if they will get any change and how much it will be. Imagine that? Handling real money in a real life situation for a real purpose. You know what that is? Real learning. Not circling coins to make 45p on a piece of paper.
We can go and play football on the park. We can teach them about good sportsmanship and good tactics. We can praise them when they score a goal and teach them to be humble. We can help them deal with the disappointment of the other team scoring. Because these disappointments do happen in real life (just ask Tottenham Hotspurs). But failing to identify the correct subjunctive is not a real-life disappointment which needs addressing.
We can take our kids to a museum and teach them about Ancient Egyptians or dinosaurs or old transport. Believe me, they will learn more from an interactive display and riding on a real steam train than reading about it (and then probably being forced to write about it, despite having no real experience of it).
We can take our kids to soft play and teach them how to play nicely with others. Because it’s all well and good trying to force a generation of robots who are able to recognise an exclamatory sentence but it’s not much use if all these future adults have zero social skills.
But the most important things we can do?
Just be. Just make the stand. Show our children that we care too much about them to let strangers dictate tests which will make them potentially depressed, stressed and withdrawn.
We can build them up. We can refuse to let ridiculous testing tear them down.
We can show our children that we are prepared to do everything in our power so that they don’t suffer the consequences of Nicky Morgan and co.
We can show our children that actually Nicky Morgan, we are the informed.
It is you who is ignorant.