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Is school good for children?

(67 Posts)
skewiff Fri 28-Sep-12 10:49:17

I just wonder whether school is a place in which children do actually learn to be social?

I wonder whether it teaches children to love or hate learning?

It feels like sending my child to prison every day. He is only 5 and does not want to go to school. He would much rather stay at home and read and play.

This morning I had to tear him away from reading his books - reading the words etc - and get cross with him for not wanting to go to school. It felt all wrong. Tearing him away from enjoying learning to force him into a place where he hates being forced to learn.

I know that home schooling is not an option for everyone - but I just wanted to open a discussion about the pros and cons of schooling versus home schooling here.

margerykemp Sat 29-Sep-12 08:57:04

I think there is an element of your DS picking up on your own attitude to school. You don't seem to like timetables/rigidity yourself so DS is probably picking up signals that this is 'bad' and undesirable.

Maybe speak to the school about their lack of learning through play.

Doeshe have a statement? That may help you negotiate with the school.

Bonsoir Sat 29-Sep-12 13:30:12

I am strongly in favour of children learning in an environment that is separate from their families. But schools are often not optimised, that's for sure.

ReallyTired Sat 29-Sep-12 13:38:50

A girl recently started in my son's class. She had been home educated and learnt absolutely nothing. Clearly her experience of home education was resoundingly crap. The girl is ten years old and she can't read or add up as her mother tried to take an automous learning approach which meant her dd learnt sweat FA.

However it would be unfair to assume that no children learn with home ed just because one family failed to teach their daughter anything.

Similarly there are good schools and bad schools. If your son is unhappy at school or learning nothing then you need to look at other options like changing school.

I think its a mistake to think that learning should always be fun and that everything can be learnt through play even at 5. Sometimes children have to shut up, sit down and listen. They have to learn that the universe does not revolve around their whims. Things like hand writing practice are boring, but the sooner it is done the sooner they can do something more interesting.

happygardening Sat 29-Sep-12 17:02:36

I'm surprised if you live in London that you have to travel for 1 hour to find an acceptable home ed group. We're rural and we've got 4 within a 30 min drive and most of our state schools are well regarded.
My DS 1 now nearly 16 was the same as your DS we moved him for two years to a Steiner school we are the most unlikely Steiner parents in the Uk fully paid up members of the hunting shooting fishing brigade anti homeopathy and no more hippy than the Queen. I'm not going to pretend it was an unmitigated success but certainly the first year (a London Steiner school) brought back my DS's joivre du vivre. Interestingly he went back into main steam ed for year 2 and learnt to read in term and passed his peers for reading in three terms!
Education is IMO obsessively prescriptive many primary school teachers are unimaginative and not very bright (runs and hides) they have virtually no comprehension how many boys learn and certainly little idea of what makes them tick. This is why boys do "less" well in the state sector (this interestingly doesn't apply in the independent sector) because they've been put off education from an early age.

orangeberries Sat 29-Sep-12 18:29:54

All my children have had ups and downs with school but it does give them a routine and an order in their lives that I think most human beings seem to need. Certainly not something I feel I could facilitate at home. But some people are really good at doing that.

All my children, boys and girls, have got a lot out of school educationally and by this I don't mean just reading and writing but lots of other experiences which I wouldn't have chosen - including eating and cooking traditional british food, playing things like cricket and hockey, and many creative activities like singing in a choir.

I do lots with my children out of school but I must admit it is a good parternship. Controversially maybe I would say that I don't think school really has helped them socially, I am not sure why I say that but none of them seem that keen on school friends. They do playdates and they seem fairly popular but it seems to me more like the kind of relationship one has with colleagues at work - pleasant but not that deep. This though could be because we are a large family so there is no huge desire to socialize.

Having said all that what school also does is give them a sense of independence; the ability to be themselves without parents observing/breathing down their necks. I am sure that is also a positive thing, especiall these days where children do not roam the streets and are free to go out and about on their own.

Finally, schooling is part of our society now and although I quite like the idea of homeschooling and have much sympathy with it, I would say that choosing this means also excluding your children from what all the other children do and you have to be quite brave I think to do that and face criticism from people but also possibly from your own children later on in life.

LittenTree Sat 29-Sep-12 19:28:11

"This is why boys do "less" well in the state sector (this interestingly doesn't apply in the independent sector) because they've been put off education from an early age."

No, I disagree. The reason boys generally do better in an independent environment is the same reason girls do, as well- they are selected. By and large, many DSs who fail to thrive in a state school (and I don't mean 'lose their spark') would possibly, nay 'probably'!- not be allowed through the gates of a private school thus do not ever get the opportunity to sully the stats of that school.

Similarly, whose spark wouldn't return if suddenly they found themselves in an environment where they were carefully matched to a style of curriculum; in small, focussed groups of similar and like-minded individuals without the distraction of non-alike DCs? Or in an environment, like home, where you were the sole focus of a parent's attention?

Back to the OP and HE. Something I was aware of in my experience of HE (not that I ever actually did it!), many of the HE parents also said that their DC got lots of time to socialise with other DC via say Baden-Powell activities (adult lead and guided), sport (coach lead and guided), drama (teacher lead and guided) and so forth. There was rarely any non-supervised hanging-out time in there. Just an observation.

skewiff Sat 29-Sep-12 21:55:42

Thank you again for all of your comments.

orangeberries you have said a lot of very helpful things. I was hoping for some thoughts and ideas that would give me a more balanced view - and didn't mean to start an argument about whether HE or school were better.

You spoke about clubs Littentree and somebody else did too. DS already does lots of sports clubs outside of school and I would not want this to be his and my hopes of a social life for him. They are usually just half an hour long. Sometimes an hour. But always they are full of so much organised activity that its impossible for proper friendships to be formed in the short space there is for conversation or play.

It is strange, living in London, that the nearest group is 1 hour away - happy gardening. I don't drive, so it would take an hour to travel by public transport. Perhaps not by car.

seeker Sat 29-Sep-12 22:14:47

LittenTree- what a good post!

An important thing to remember is that the school day is short, the holidays long-you're not sending them into penal servitude!

Colleger Sat 29-Sep-12 22:28:02

I think school is a very unhealthy and unnatural environment. Some children may enjoy school but what do they have to compare it with and many children just go with the flow, regardless if it is good for them or not. The Hitler Youth springs to mind!

School, for me, is a glorified childcare facility. There are only a few schools I'd now be willing to pay/send my children to if that's what my kids wanted but I still think its a waste of time and crushes creativity, individuality and a love of learning. It's odd that children are free and learn freely and passionately about the things they are interested in for the first five years (if they're lucky) then institutionalised and learn to hate learning, hate school and to avoid bullies. Then at eighteen they are allowed to be free again and follow their dreams - if their creativity or ability to know what they want has not been zapped. A schooled child at eighteen is like a bird with clipped wings.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 29-Sep-12 22:31:00

"Education is IMO obsessively prescriptive."

Strange that there have been threads (yes, I'm a bad person) saying how rote learning would be best.
but the quote is one of the many reasons why schools can't win.
The truth of the matter IMO is that if you want an education styled around the wants and the needs of your child then you really do have to HE, any other type of educational environment is always going to be aimed at the few or the many.

seeker Sat 29-Sep-12 22:35:06

" A schooled child at eighteen is like a bird with clipped wings."

And there was me thinking we might be able to have a thread on the subject without anyone coming in and completely dismissing children from either "side". Sadly, not.

Hulababy Sat 29-Sep-12 22:42:33

I can honestly say that my DD's school has been very good for her. She's in Y6 now and she adores school, has many friends, she loves the social side of school as much as the learning side. I know that for DD her school life so far has been excellent. She will be very very sad to leave next summer.

However I can imagine that some schools may not be good for some children. I think it very much depends on individual schools and individual children.

DD would hate home schooling. We discussed it on a few occasions as one of her friends left her school to return to the US and for a while she was home schooled - I assume til the next year began. She is now at school once more. DD was very clear on why she loved school and why she would not be want to be home schooled - and we do have an excellent relationship as mother and daughter (and also father and daughter for her and DH.)

But I would not rule it out if there was a need and school was failing her. This seems very unlikely for DD however and I would try more than one school in the quest too.

Hulababy Sat 29-Sep-12 22:46:06

Colleger - how many schools have your children be to? How many schooled children do you personally know?

It sounds to me like you have a very skewed impression of schools and children who have been to school. It does not in any way, shape or form, match what I know of schools and many school children. I know there are some poor schools, my I also know of many very good schools.

I can on'y assume you know few older children/young adults if you think schooled children have no creatively, individuality or independence.

Colleger Sat 29-Sep-12 23:05:41

Yes, I post comments with no understanding or experience on the matter! hmm

My children have all been to school, state and private, until at least the age of 11. One is currently at a boarding school and they have been in at least six different schools between them - nursery, Pre-prep, prep, senior schools. I know plenty of young adults.

So, you assumed wrong!

seeker Sat 29-Sep-12 23:12:33

And all the young adults you know have no creativity, imagination or individuality, hate learning and have had their wings clipped? Oh, apart from the HE ones

You must, surely, know that is a foolish thing to say? Surely?

Colleger Sat 29-Sep-12 23:17:25

I didn't actually say HE ones don't? Where did I say that?

I love how you always jump on my posts seeker. hmm

Hulababy Sat 29-Sep-12 23:26:04

I may have assumed wrong but I remain hugely surprised and shocked. This is not my experience of children at school and not the opinions of anyone I know, including HEdders. Not even the experience of those who have children who have had negative experiences of school.

Why do your children attend schools when you believe they are being held back from the experience? That baffles me tbh.

stinkymice Sat 29-Sep-12 23:27:34

Find a different school.
My ds just started in reception. He loves it, they play all day! Even work is playful, counting games etc. I would feel that HE would very much deprive him of friends and the opportunity to play and explore in ways I can not provide at home. School has taught him to pickup bugs! He has always been too squeamish (like me) to do this at home, I was very happy when he came and told me proudly he had found a woodlouse and picked up a snail. Small things but very good to have different experiences.

Colleger Sat 29-Sep-12 23:28:16

One doesn't attend school but the other one is so institutionalised he fears the freedom of HE...

Hulababy Sat 29-Sep-12 23:30:56

Or maybe he just likes school???

If you feel he is so institutionalised surely all the more reason to put your foot down and pull him out? Or chose another school? Although I would imagine boarding school would be more regimented and institution like than most schools anyway.

Colleger Sat 29-Sep-12 23:34:04

He does like school but again it comes down to what one is willing to put up with and not realising there are better alternatives. My child is a teenager and I cannot force him on this issue.

seeker Sun 30-Sep-12 07:42:45

Collager-if you say offensive and ill informed things about school educated children and I'll call you on them.

Colleger Sun 30-Sep-12 10:01:33

I wasn't being offensive, I was writing it with sadness.

Emandlu Sun 30-Sep-12 10:10:28

I home ed my kids.

For us it works. They did go to school and I took them out for exactly the reasons you mention skewiff.

I always say that home ed works for some children in exactly the same way as school works for some children. There is no average child and so it is illogical to think that one size will fit all when it comes to education.

Most of my kids friends are from the music groups and orchestras they attend, they have other friends in the locality who knock on for them and they also know people through church. We have another home ed family just around the corner too and we see a lot of them.

If you would like to chat about how we do home ed then send me a pm and I will happily chat about it.

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Sep-12 10:22:17


Like you, I have spent time in the school community (though not the private school community, which I believe is where your children have spent most time?) and in the HE community.

There is huge variety in both. To make generalisations such as yours seems unhelpful. The experience of individual HEed children varies massively - from the totally uneducated [I am an absolute supporter of the right to HE, but it would be wrong to deny that such a situation can arise] to the incredibly hot-housed in one area or in many, from the wholly autonomous to the very structured. Equally, the experience of a schooled child will vary massively - both within an individual sector and between them (visiting practically the full set of primary schools - both state and private - in the town where I live showed a truly extraordinary range, from sitting in rows copying off a backboard to almost wholly child-directed learning). I would risk a generalisation and say that, at least locally, the private schools were more structured than the state as a general rule - and perhaps as this is the sector where you have more experience, it is that structure that you understand to be the common 'schooled' experience.

The OP is comparing her child's school with her idea of HE. Other posters are saying that a third alternative is to look for a school which more closely matches her ethos as there is a genuine difference between schools. It isn't a schooled in general / HE in general debate - it is about a child, his family, and a single school.

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