Monday, January 24, 2011

my wish for the children starting school

To all the children heading off to school for the first time, this is my wish for you. 

Actually, it is not my wish per se - it belongs to Maggie Dent, parenting and resiliency specialist.  And although it was written some time ago, it remains valid today:
An Open letter to the Federal Minister of Education  
I am writing to you as a concerned parent first and former teacher second:
I believe that schooling and education could be improved the following ways.

  • Less cognitive approach to schooling - value the trades, musicians and craftspeople more than now.
  • Place a priority on building emotional intelligence and social and moral competencies so that kids can form more effective relationships which is the most important issue in being resilient and happy in life.
  • Create safer, quieter and smaller schools where kids can be happier and thus learn better. If not smaller schools please continue to work towards smaller classes.
  • Teach thinking skills, accelerated learning techniques and memory strategies so that all students can become smarter not just the bright ones.
  • Lighten up in schools - have more laughter and fun so that kids can feel connected and that life really is worth living. Especially beneficial for boys.
  • Keep a better balance between work and play in primary school - Kids should be allowed to be kids as long as possible.
  • More play based non-competitive physical activities to encourage our kids to be more active and help reduce the obesity problem at the same time as learning how to lose and cooperate and share.
As an idealist I would love to see a more holistic approach that allows for the nurturing and caring of our kids in our scary world!  Can we please pay the committed teachers who really make a positive difference to our kids lots more money so that they stay and feel valued by our society?

Sir if this happened I wouldn't see five year olds who want to die, antidepressants as a normal part of adolescence, boys underachieving in work and failing in relationships especially by means of domestic violence, and maybe no need for teenage girls to be so keen to stab themselves as often as I do.

Best wishes
Maggie Dent CMC 

Author of "Saving Our Children from Our Chaotic World: Teaching Children the Magic of Silence and Stillness
To this I would add:
What about you?  What do you wish our schools could do better?


  1. outside,outside,outside!! children ust dO NOT get enough outdoor time. and that's why i love your work here jenny. you provide so many wonderful ideas for we teachers and parents to creatively make spaces for our children.

    lovely article...thank you so much for reprinting it, i always value your words here. xxx

  2. thanks Kristin - I'm with you. More time outdoors, because so much wonderful learning happens there. And I'd love our Aussie kids to be able to wear play clothes to school instead of uniforms so that they could get down and dirty outside!

    1. Kristin
      start with having families bringing in spares for just that purpose....the uniforms can go home clean!
      ann b

  3. You have so many great ideas! This is an inspiring article!
    Sherman Unkefer

  4. Great post, thank you for the words and wisdom from yourself, the article, and the links. I think everything mentioned represents my immediate wishes for how we educate children with one caveat. I am so tired of not understanding why, WHY, WHY education policy does not match the research. Really, from the research of decades ago to the present the way we know children learn best is not how go about letting them learn. I hope one day the two will align, for the sake of children everywhere. Thanks again for the reminder, of that which is important and that which is not.

  5. Some great words here, Jenny. I can support all of these wishes. One thing I hope for kids--adults who will listen to the kids' ideas and thoughts, taking those ideas, thoughts, and words seriously. That's embedded in the wishes listed here: smaller classrooms, social competencies, relationship building, etc.

  6. As a teacher I would love more freedom in the curriculum. I would love to actually be able to listen to the students' interests, their individual interests, and let them guide their own learning. I want to be trusted to do the job I was trained to do; inspire young people to discover their passions and through that develop a true love of learning that will guide them through life. I want their learning to be measure by their motivation and passion and not by a written test in 7 weeks time. I want them to have the freedom to truly express themselves in what ever way they see fit. And I want them to get outside and learn about the real world by being IN the real world creating, investigating, imagining. But mostly I want each and every child to feel that they are valued, that they have a voice and that that voice is worth listening to.

    These are my hopes for my children and all the children.

  7. I have linked to this wonderful article! Thanks for sharing.

  8. yes yes yes! I am a former school teacher, hated the rigidness and worksheets and lack of passion, fun and curiosity, moved to pre school and love the child focused, play based, open ended philosophy, and guess what,,,the children LEARN and HAVE FUN (gasp!) I don't think its a coincidence that myself and the other teacher at our center have chosen non mainstream schools for our children, anyone can see our current system is broken.