Paul Kirby, a former Conservative advisor, has proposed a change to education that would see children at school between 9 and 6 every day, 45 weeks a year. He says that it will prepare children better for a life of work. Then today saw Michael Gove getting in on the act with similar suggestions for longer school hours.
Good. Because my two-year old is already showing a massive lack of ambition. He doesn’t work at all – cheeky sod, and even when he starts pre-school in a few weeks, he will only be doing a 5 hour week, which is frankly down right lazy and not the sort of behaviour that will get the economy moving again at all.
I for one cannot wait until he is four years old and finally faces up to the reality of life by attending school for 40 plus hours a week. His life is far too easy, all play doh and napping. He needs to get his head around the miserable monotony of the working week and he needs to do it soon, if you put it off until adulthood you are just wasting years of your life having a nice time. Having a nice time does nothing for the GDP of this country and should therefore be discouraged.
In fact why stop at 40 hour weeks in education for children? Let’s bring back child labour, just think how our manufacturing sector could flourish with all those under the age of minimum wage workers on their staff. It would be a real boom for the economy.
Oh? There are laws that say it isn’t good for children to work that many hours a week? In fact it is illegal you say? Yet being in school for that many hours is a good plan is it?
I may be utterly misguided, but while my children are growing up I would like to perpetuate the myth that life is a wondrous thing, full of spontaneous fun and amazement at the world. I want to protect them from the drudgery of reality for as long as possible. I didn’t realise we wanted them to understand the nine-hour grey days that go hand in hand with adulthood when they were small. My bad.
Actually, if I should be preparing them for the realities of adult life then I am declaring this a house of multiple occupation and sending the three of them individual bills for rent and amenities. They will have to get themselves a black market job up a chimney sharpish in order to cover the costs, but that will surely teach them an important lesson or two. Plus it will give them a lung condition to moan about, and nothing says ‘I am a grown up’ more than complaining about your ailments.
Seriously, if something like this was brought in, I will be considering shifting to home education. It seems to me that it is more about childcare than children’s welfare. For a real solution to childcare we shouldn’t be looking at children operating on work hours, but instead shifting the approach to employment onto a more family friendly footing. Working policies such as flexible hours, part-time working and working from home. It is my experience that if you can help your employee find a work/life balance that works, then in return you will get an incredibly hard-working and loyal member of your team. Your money’s worth and more.
Surely the teachers will not be happy with this proposal either. I know there is an illusion that they work short hours and have long holidays, but the teachers I know are doing 8 hour days in school, plus an additional couple of hours every evening, and more preparation and marking at weekends. Plus I panic when all three of my own children are in the same room at once, how they cope with thirty is completely beyond me. They deserve a round of applause not an accusation of slacking.
My youngest will start school 3 weeks after his fourth birthday, and there is no way he will be ready for that length of day. In fact he will probably be exhausted by the traditional school day. And as for reducing the holidays to a measly five weeks per year, most parents will tell you their kids are tired and tetchy by the end of a long term of incarceration behind the classroom door, and in need of the break from routine the holidays bring.
Leaving aside the other shorter breaks, who doesn’t look back on their summer holidays with fond memories of rainy camping trips, grazed knees and wrestling tournaments with their siblings. I once nailed a plank of wood to my leg during in an ill-advised exploration of a building site. Those were truly the days. I want my kids to have that, preferably minus the threat of tetanus. I want them to discover secret coves, eat literal sand-wiches on the beach and read books under the apple tree in the garden on sunny afternoons.
OK, there is a small chance my view of the summer holidays as a time of picnics and ginger beer may not be real. I don’t even have a garden let alone an apple tree, and my reality is actually bickering kids moaning about being bored, but the freedom of kids to be bored is one I am prepared to fight for. I don’t want my children to be considered merely a cog in the economy of the country. 9-6?! Even my heroine Dolly Parton only works 9-5, and she runs a global empire of country music, big hair and breast themed roller coasters.
Paul Kirby suggests that this is the perfect election promise, and that not only would it win an election for someone brave enough to use it, it will also solve the countries economic woes, capture the imagination of women voters between 30 and 45, and a catalogue of other things. Well, he certainly captures this woman’s imagination, it makes me imagine a world where childhood no longer exists, and that makes me want to weep.
Love Miss Cisco