Subtitled: “What should we teach children?”
I think, from junior school, one period a week should be reserved to talk about life in general.
We could take lessons from the work of “self improvement gurus”, such as Anthony Robbins and many others like him, to enthuse the children to do the best that they can. We should also take lessons from the news to show them that actions taken whilst they are young, like stealing and playing with drugs can affect their whole lives.
Take for example, the student nurse who, at the age of 24, was asked to leave Northumbria University because of a theft committed when she was sixteen. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge as she was impressionable and a senior member of staff at her school had persuaded her to do it.
A talented straight-A medical student had his place at Imperial College in London withdrawn because of a spent burglary conviction in 2005.
And a sprinter who failed in his High Court bid to be released from his life-time ban and be allowed to go to the Olympics because he took self-performance drugs to cheat with his running.
Letting kids of ten and eleven know how the actions they take today may shatter their dreams tomorrow can’t be a bad thing.
I also think that kids should be taught Esperanto at an early age. Not because the language has any use today, but because it can be learned in six months. There was an experiment where two classes of children of the same age group were taught as follows. One learned Esperanto, then French for two years and the other group just learned French for two years. At the end of twenty-four months the class who learned Esperanto and then French were way ahead of the class who only learned French. It seems that if you know two languages, it is much easier to learn a third, then a fourth. The reason being that your mindset is more used to the fact that each language has a different way of doing things. I learned English and Afrikaans at school, and when I learned Zulu, it was easier than I thought.
There should be classes interspersed which look at famous people who had no, or little education. Winston Churchill didn’t do well at school, and Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft, but we need, rather, to concentrate on those who didn’t come from privileged families. Sir Alan Sugar springs to mind. And, classes with ethnic majorities should be told about people of their origins who have done well in Britain. Especially if they have come from a poor background.
There are all sorts of lessons that could be crammed into that one 45 minute period each week to fire up the enthusiasm of poorer kids.
And I would bring hanging back for parents who say to their offspring: “Don’t get ideas above your station”.