Today my children and I have been hard at work learning, but in very different circumstances.
I’m studying an online SENCO course with Leeds Becket university (see top photo), my son is playing a difficult match with his team, and my daughter has recently started a very challenging course in French “prepa” to eventually get into a top school (hence the nail varnish along with the school books!).
All this got me thinking about how different our experiences are, my son is in a football study programme where every year he has to pass try outs to stay, and every week if he isn’t good enough he doesn’t go to the match. My daughter’s school will throw out the bottom 25% of her class at the end of the year – no matter how good their results are.
As a teacher I can’t help wondering if the pressure my own children are under is actually helping them learn. My own afternoon of learning was spent having been sucked into a vortex of “flow” as I studied and compared the provisions for SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in England and France – and just like the regular education system, I can tell you they are VERY different.
In France the system is elitist, based on results and marks, many exams are competitive, meaning only the top whatever percent get through, so even if you get 80% right, if you’re eleventh and they let the top ten pass, you’re out.
This means my son’s team has the best possible players, as does my daughter’s school, but is this the best way of learning? Does their learning actually have to be so hard?