'Slow schooling' a good idea?

(68 Posts)
Hamishbear Mon 15-Oct-12 14:21:18

Some may have seen the recent Article in the Times? Mike Grenier, a house master at Eton said that tutoring outside school and any intensive regime after school involving such things as music lessons and sports etc could damage a child.

Mike Grenier went on to say such things were demotivating and emotionally dangerous as they could make children feel 'as if they are a passive project constructed against their will'. The article added 'Mr Grenier is an advocate of “slow education”, a concept adapted from a culinary movement begun in Italy as an antidote to fast food that has spawned a wider philosophical approach to travel, business, living and now schooling. With other teachers, in private and state schools, he is spearheading a campaign to infuse this approach into education, and will speak at the London Festival of Education next month'.

Mike Grenier admitted there was pressure at Eton but suggested that competitiveness was often peer driven and not unhealthy.

The article ends by saying: 'The role of the teacher or parent, he says, is to provide a safety net as a child walks a tightrope, and to raise or lower it in different circumstances. “The danger of hyper-parenting,” Mr Grenier says,” is that it is intrusive and they don’t even let them get on the high rope at all.”'

Cognitive entry tests at Eton (which are allegedly tutor proof) mean that those clever enough to get in can benefit from this slow schooling? I think those in 11 plus areas etc feel that they have no choice but to adopt anything but this gentle approach in order to give their child the best chance of grammar entry at 11? They are left with little choice in other words. Should 'Slow Schooling' be brought in?

jabed Mon 15-Oct-12 15:40:20

I think the man is talking sense. However, I dont think too many parents will be pleased because they just love sending their DC off to all those ectra curriculars and clubs and activities. Personally I dont. I already slow cook my DS. I will tell you in 15 years whether its worked or not.

slipshodsibyl Mon 15-Oct-12 15:44:53

Isn't 'slow schooling' just common sense? And probably what the majority of children experience? Turning one's child into a project is a good way of describing over-anxious parenting.

Hamishbear Mon 15-Oct-12 15:59:41

Children at Eton and similar are lucky enough to have all those opportunities and extra curricular activities at their disposal. Children at Eton apparently are driven to partake through healthy competition and peer pressure. Their peers so give them the impetus to become intrinsically motivated over time, not every child will be in that fortunate position. Failing that they may need a kick from a parent at least in the first instance?

slipshodsibyl Mon 15-Oct-12 17:07:32

Eton selects rigorously though. The unmotivated, the less academic and those who do not demonstrate the personal qualities the school is looking for at interview, tend not to be there in the first place.

I doubt he means that all extra-curriculars are undesirable.

Hamishbear Mon 15-Oct-12 17:18:58

No he's absolutely not saying all extra-curriculars are undesirable just unhealthy when taken to an extreme or not the choice of the child.

slipshodsibyl Mon 15-Oct-12 17:21:40

But that's is common sense really isn't it?

Hamishbear Mon 15-Oct-12 17:36:36

Quite. Full article is worth a read.

Perhaps 'slow schooling' is a great idea in principle but a luxury in real terms that might disadvantage some in state schools etc (where it's proposed it could be brought in)? Some might not have self motivation, competitive peers that foster intrinsic motivation and long term success as described at Eton. Perhaps the ordinary child at a not so great school might benefit from a highly motivated parent (at least in the early stages)? Perhaps not?

happygardening Mon 15-Oct-12 18:05:11

The irony is that many parents will have hyper parented their DS's to get them into Eton in fact most we know who sent their DS's there did. The Pre test may be unteachable for but Eton is very keen to point out that passing this test is not the sole criteria and that they are looking for other things as well, rightly or wrongly perceived by parents as extra curricular activities etc.
In fact I was told at a "get your DS into Eton" talk by the admissions tutor that to successfully move your DS from the waiting list you to an offer of a place you need to inform them of your child every success in extra curricular activities etc however trivial.

slipshodsibyl Mon 15-Oct-12 18:34:31

I have read the article.
Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I think it is aimed at the more extreme examples of the kind of parents Happy describes.Eton is likely to see more of this than many schools.

happygardening Mon 15-Oct-12 18:51:06

Two exceedingly able boys (but who participated in very limited extra curricular activities) who I know who were turned down flat. Both came from homes where they were hypo parented!

jabed Mon 15-Oct-12 20:24:57

Re extracurricular's in most independent schools they are not really an option. They are compulsory ( including Eton). Its not peer presure IME.
I know a lot of pupils who dont like them and do not want to do them and we do have our fair share of pupils who pull faces and others who even manage to bunk off.

Personally I dont think they are a good idea but as I said, its what a lot of parents pay for it seems.

EBDTeacher Mon 15-Oct-12 20:46:35

Did anyone watch the last series of 'The Apprentice'? There was a kid on there, Nick I think, who was making a massive deal out of having been raised with the goats in a Swiss field and then attended an English public school and how it had made him massively emotionally intelligent.

Yes. Great. But is is just another form of privilege.

I hope to send DS to Eton because we live conveniently locally but I will not in any infintessimal way base our (or his) lifestyle around getting in. I resent someone trying to make that into a 'philosophy'. grin

EdithWeston Mon 15-Oct-12 20:58:24

Link to the Slow Movement's web page, though I think it's a US site, as not everything reads across directly to UK.

jabed Tue 16-Oct-12 06:16:30

I learned a long time ago that slowly slowly is best. Ihave spent a lot of time looking for a school employing the same ethos ( I thinkwe may have one now for next September). My DS is HE and this allows us the philosophy.

I do not like "fast" in any guise. So we live slowly ( in the countrymostly). Weeat slowly ( as a family). We do things together. No targets. No busy busy..... no clubs and after schools (DW insists), no racing around, and and I will let you know how it works in 20 years.

Its very much how I was brought up. Its certainly how DW was raised. It may be we breed a DS with no ambition to join the rat race but I hope he will be happy and stable.

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 06:21:52

"make children feel as if they are a passive project constructed against their will"

That's only the case if parents, rather than children, are choosing the activities.

Personally I think that peer-driven competition is much more dangerous! Children are young and don't have perspective on what is important in life.

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 08:18:10

PMSL that Eton constitutes a slow education. Schools like this are full on. High academic standards, tough sports, lots of music etc.

Far far from a slow education.

So it seems a tad patronising for him to lecture parents who try to replicate what his pupils receive within school.

Colleger Tue 16-Oct-12 08:41:07

Yes, Eton is the antithesis of "slow learning" and Eton generally want boys with strengths across a wide range of activities so I find the article hypocritical.

EdithWeston Tue 16-Oct-12 08:51:22

Eton says it needs to take clever boys (not necessarily bookish ones thoughh) who can stand the academic pace without difficulty specifically so they can take advantage of all the co-curricular activity, so to that extend I agree it is hypocritical as the expectation is very much that they will do much more than lessons.

I suppose the difference is that he's putting the emphasis on activities being chosen by the pupil, rather than being imposed by the parent. Now as there aren't that many Tiger Parents, the warning is somewhat redundant.

The child-led approach in the early years chimes exactly with the Slow School approach (in the link I posted above styles of school such as Montessori and Waldorf come in for praise). There are other initiatives in state schools from time to time that fit too, such as cross curricular topic based learning.

Hamishbear Tue 16-Oct-12 08:53:04

I think the article is saying Eton is seeking to take on more of this 'slow' ideology/methodology. The idea being if you have the raw materials to start with a slow percolation is fine and infinitely desirable compared to super cramming of any sort.

You can imagine some of the parents that attempt to get their sons into Eton though? Presumably he is speaking out against them - they will be extremes though, of the type most of us are unlikely to encounter. (Please note I am not being sniffy about Eton - have a few old Etonian friends, and tutored a boy from a lovely family for Eton (music/organ?) scholarship entry - he got in).

Hamishbear Tue 16-Oct-12 09:05:42

What about if your child doesn't quite have the raw materials to start with but could with a push too?

wordfactory Tue 16-Oct-12 09:11:19

Thinking about it, the HT sounds like an utter knob.

It's fine for his pupils to have lots of academic rigour, sports and music but no one else. LOL!

Hamishbear Tue 16-Oct-12 09:20:18

He's a housemaster and he's spearheading a campaign that will potentially benefit all schools - apparently. Speaking at the London Festival of Education next month.

Farewelltoarms Tue 16-Oct-12 10:46:45

I'm with Word Factory on this. While I completely agree with much of what he's saying about how children thrive when they're left to get bored, I find it really irksome to be lectured on education from those that work in such a rarefied sector of it. It's as though a doctor from a hospital that only took in healthy people and then spent 3 times as much money on each patient, started lecturing the NHS on their higher death rates. I just don't think someone in Eton has any idea of what goes on in the real world, plus as Word says, Eton is full of access to all those sort of amazing activities normal parents can only dream of providing for their children.
Yes some parents push their children too much, yes some children are over-scheduled. However, a far bigger problem in society as a whole (as opposed to some tiny elite section) is a lack of engagement in education.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now