Someone once said, I think it was Christ, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ I think, ‘haven’t a clue’ is more apt. in this case. According to a News item on TV there is a move afoot to make those children not able to reach a basic level in English and Maths, to be held back and given extra classes, while the rest move up the school.
If you read my stuff you will have probably assessed my intelligence, and my English. I lost two years education at the time I was eight years old, I have written this elsewhere, but repeat it because it is pertinent. Over the years, even at secondary school I saw mates move on. The effect of the separation was multiple, to those coming up and joining me from a lower grade, I was the dummy who had been left behind as I was stupid, and I began to believe it. The effect on me personally was the loss of friendship, a psychological deflation in what ever self-esteem I might have had. If the masters were changed, they believed I was stupid, and might treat me accordingly. This state of mind, was so ingrained that it wasn’t until I met my wife, in 1944, at the age of 21 that I discovered I had a modicum of ability. In consequence I still doubt my judgment, and certainly have no big head
What comes out of this is that first of all, I was a hell of a lot brighter than I was given credit for, but the educational system had failed me and placed me in a situation at such an early age that I didn’t know my potential and therefore couldn’t fight my corner. I had an aunt, a schoolteacher, who did feel I had potential, to such an extent that just prior to the war years, she paid for me to have special tuition in mathematics and French to enable me to matriculate, a year later.
I suggest, that when they talk about a high percentage of the children not reaching the standard, I believe that they should look elsewhere, rather than within the children to find the source of the deficiency – it is too great to be all their fault. Home life has an influence, but from my experiences in later life, when rubbing shoulders with university students who had come from a vast plethora of backgrounds, and a great number of different schools, was that teachers have far more responsibility for the children’s moulding than they suspect, and are given credit for. You may not agree with this statement but I have proved it’s more than once to my own satisfaction. Sophie was a secondary school teacher of considerable ability. Now in a retirement, grown women, with children, or even older than that, will stop her in the street just to revive old times. She had the ability, and the compassion to carry the children along with her, and discipline, while strict, was accepted. I therefore believe that the quality of the teaching can be demonstrated in the quality of the product. Help and compassion is what the underachievers need in the early stages, rather than the psychological whiplash of being held back.
If they decide to hold the children back, rather than give them concentrated help during those long tedious summer holidays, they will have to find more accommodation for those classes, and if not heating and lights, at least cleaning and supervision.
Would someone in authority, please point out to these politicians who are making these idiotic proposals, the error of their ways.