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'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?

happygardening Wed 17-Oct-12 15:21:20

As far as I understand the instructions come up really quickly so you have to be a pretty fast reader and have excellent comprehension so I suppose if have to do some sort of coaching you could practice these areas. Interestingly the two very bright but quirky boys we know who were turned down flat were both excellent readers and also had excellent skills of comprehension; both reading and understanding adult fiction at 10 yrs old, both were also exceedingly competent on a computer BUT neither did hundreds of extra curricular activities!!!

mumblecrumble Wed 17-Oct-12 15:33:11

I think the point of this is the pace 'intensive regime' rather than the content.

Pace of teaching, continually (not formally) assessing achievement, motivation and enjoyment and leading pupils to progress at that level has been the main focus of all my professional reviews as a teacher since before qualifying.

Not able to log in to see the full article as not subscribed but worries me immensely that the core message from OP's summary is that "music lessons, sport etc could damage a child".

I fully support the idea that any person doing too much is 'spreading the jam too thin' - that common sense isn;t it? But suggesting that extra skills and fun activities is damaging - seems bonkers.

Hullygully Wed 17-Oct-12 15:38:19

vair hilaire

morethanpotatoprints Wed 17-Oct-12 15:43:53

I think that people like Grenier even if well intentioned seem to miss the point or fail to look at the bigger picture.
I see his point about hot housing dc and to a point agree that it does not make a happy well rounded individual.
However, there are many dcs who to them music, drama, sport, etc are not extra curricular but core curricula. To my dd music is more important than any other subject, academic or not. These people live in their own little bubble and just because they seem to think it should be so, doesn't mean its a one fit all education. His comments will damage a lot of parents and dc as to an outsider we will all be seen as pushy parents or hot housing.

vesela Wed 17-Oct-12 17:24:30

Here he (and the other authors) put hardly any emphasis on the extra-curricular side of things and nearly all the emphasis on less testing etc. - "Clumsy forms of measurement and short term goal setting."

I'd definitely include schools' reward systems in that - a quick fix if ever there was one.

doyceandclennam Sat 20-Oct-12 19:23:07

there's something new posted on the slow education website which suggests he has read this thread

SerenityNOT Sun 21-Oct-12 11:16:27

My experience: DS sat a scholarship exam for his prep school (a test taken with boys from the same school who were staying on until 13+) and other boys applying to join the school. He received no extra tutoring as we had no idea what was expected. He and 2 other boys (another 'insider' and a newbie) were awarded the academic scholarships. The newbie had been tutored to the test and failed to maintain the standard expected of an academic scholar - he was moved out of the 'scholarship class' so the hot housing didn't work.
DS was very successful in the Eton Test and we accepted the offer. We didn't get him any tutoring at all until the Easter break just prior to taking the King's Scholarship Exams - we erroneously relied on the prep school to prepare him and while the head of that school worked well with DS, we did need to get a French tutor because the French teacher didn't bother to check the paperwork and insisted that Eton did not require a French oral test as part of the exam. Panic on my part was a major factor in going to the expense of a French tutor (who was superb, and very understanding) and she was equally pleased that DS was knowledgable and easy to work with. He just needed some polishing. We managed to get DS to do a bit of revision in the holidays but didn't want to force him because, frankly, he had enough on his plate with a long term medical condition giving him a lot of trouble at the time.
My point is, personally, I believe hot housing, over-educating, it what you will, is wholeheartedly bad for any child as they will undoubtedly burn out. I've seen it.
DS got his place at Eton in spite of his illness and without being tutored to within an inch of his life like so many of his prep school peers. And he got A Certain Chap as his House Master - couldn't ask for more!

SerenityNOT Sun 21-Oct-12 11:57:15

Forgot the second part of my point; children should be allowed to work out their own social life, to a degree. Presented with Monday tennis, Tuesday piano, Wednesday swimming, etc and weekends packed with other clubs they're not able to assess a 'normal' social or family life of biking to the park with a gang of mates, family meals together, dog walks and movie night. Also, there's no real room to develop common sense communication because much if the social intercourse right now goes on via the likes of Facebook, twitter, etc where a comment is 'dead' and there's no body language to assess the meaning behind a word or the way the word is being received. Kids need to 'hang out' in a social and physical sense without being fenced in to a forced atmosphere of sports club or such like.

Hamishbear Mon 22-Oct-12 10:59:42

Doyce thanks for the information. Have read his recent post on the Slow Education site and his ideas are more fully explained there.

Serenity - take it you think you've either got it up top or you haven't? All of the talk of over tutoring, assured burn out for the less able etc seems to suggest that intellect can never really significantly develop? Completely take your points in the last post but also believe it's really possible to develop a child's interest so that a child becomes incredibly & unusually skillful in a certain area over a period of time. The child often becomes passionate about that skill, virtuous circles and all that sort of thing. For example, music, sport, language etc. Those 'gifts' might just secure a ordinary child a place at an extraordinary school giving them the sort of education and experiences that perhaps otherwise would be beyond their wildest dreams.

happygardening Mon 22-Oct-12 17:20:16

SerenityNOT you make valid points the only thing you don't make clear is that with you non pushy approach your DS got the KS. I believe KS scholars live in College but the implication from your email is that Mike Grenier is you HM and he's not the HM of College.

slipshodsibyl Mon 22-Oct-12 17:56:11

Happy gardening! Mr Grenier has read and quoted a word from your earlier post. You're nearly famous!

happygardening Mon 22-Oct-12 18:23:50


SerenityNOT Wed 24-Oct-12 14:57:13

happygardening, you are right - DS is not in College. Although he did attain a Distinction in the KS, it wasn't quite enough to earn the Scholarship but which is still a superb result in a set of exams which have been variously described as "Bizarrely difficult," "Extremely challenging, even for me," and even "Evil, just evil," by his prep school teachers, most of whom simply didn't understand them or the purpose of the challenge. (KS exams are around the standard of a current AS level - apparently!)
With hindsight I think we did everything just about right in fitting study, exam prep and medical care together. In fact, I'm sure DS would have burned out before taking the exams given the state he was in back then. Anyway... now I've blown my cover, I'd better go change my name!

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 26-Oct-12 13:25:35

How much pushy parenting starts with dc still in the womb? There are those who turn up for the minimum of antenatal appointments and carry in wuth everything as normal, while others have an hour by hour pregnancy diary, special diet before conception/while preggers/during labour, follow advice books word for word and (I reckon) really miss out on the joys of making a baby and having cuddles with the newborn just cos you fancy it and not because some self appointed authority figure says 2.10 to 2.15 is cuddle time. There's even a MNer who asked for a recommendation for a pre-school tutor to get her tiny one 'up to speed' for reception class!
I see Mr Grenier is in the press again (Telegraph) this week. He's working the trend, and good for him. Let's hope his work and that of his colleagues has a positive impact on prep schools who seem to be increasingly teaching to the test without a thought for the impact on the children. That, IME, takes the fun out of learning.

mrsshackleton Fri 26-Oct-12 15:56:58

I was with someone the other day who was working out how to get his six-month-old in-utero son into Eton. #

Someone told him it was too late, you needed to register immediately after the !2-week scan

His face was a picture

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 26-Oct-12 16:52:36

Oh! That is fantastic, mrsshackleton. Love it!

SarfEasticated Sun 18-Nov-12 20:39:29

Hi there, I was lucky enough to attend a session on slow education at yesterdays 'festival of education' - it was wonderful! The people that really stole the show were the team from Matthew Moss High School in Rochdale - and their 'my world' approach. Asking the pupils what they wanted to learn and encouraging them in their research. look at their website and a film on youtube amazing stuff.

SarfEasticated Sun 18-Nov-12 20:58:31

and here's a link to an article about it on TES

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