Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Just a thought...

According to a recent study, children in the UK are 'culture starved'. That's to say, a significant percentage have not visited art galleries, museums or the theatre. Of course, there are many factors to consider and, in these times of growing austerity, cost is probably top of the list.


But the study reveals that half of those parents surveyed, believed it was the role of the schools to introduce 'culture' into the lives of their children. This got me thinking, perhaps it's just a little too easy to shift the onus, entirely, to schools. Surely, there can be few things better than shared cultural experiences with our children? 

A Southampton Primary School has been in the news just recently, after it introduced the fourth 'R' (Reasoning) to the curriculum. Philosophy for children is a great initiative, but I wonder how many parents will see it merely as something else that's only done in school? Isn't, education a partnership, entered into with an agreed goal of providing a child with every opportunity to connect with the world and fulfil potential?

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe thinking has become so passé.

14 comments:

  1. This is one reason I think the whole notion of "good schools" and "bad schools" is a bit of a red herring, and league tables are pretty much worthless. The most crucial factors in a child's academic success, with a few exceptions, are the attitude of the parents and their ability to create an environment conducive to learning (whether that means having books around the house, going to museums, paying for extra lessons, or simply discussing something other than last night's X-Factor round the meal table). So-called good schools do well mainly because they attract parents who see education as a priority, and have the aptitude and resources to communicate that to their offspring. Everything else follows. There are of course other variables (especially inspiring teachers, especially obtuse kids, etc) but the parents are usually the key.

    ReplyDelete
  2. WEll.. I know of one small English child who has a grandfather who will make sure her education is rich and wonderful. How can she fail with a loving name like Speckly-Woo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Martin, I agree but it is a generational issue.
    I grew up in an area in Dublin that generally wouldn't have inspired education and creativity.
    The culture at home, mainly my parents, encouraged us to open our eyes to the world. I don't think you can teach kids to pick up a book or look at art, they tend to copy what they see around them. As for art galleries and museums, my kids spend a lot of time in them with me, mainly because they are free and interesting.
    There are some great initiatives here run by volunteers and writers such as Roddy Doyle to get kids interested in the arts in a fun way rather than a school subject way.
    Check this out: http://www.fightingwords.ie/
    I could just see you set up a UK version. Interesting post, Martin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting place, Fighting Words. You may have sown a seed.

      Delete
  4. I have to admit I cannot recall ever visiting an art gallery, theatre or museum in my entire school career. But equally, in must be admitted, that we never visited such places as a family either. I discovered such places when I was fired by my own desire. Theoretically on-line availability should provide much greater access - I wonder if it will?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were lucky enough to have visited some National museums, when I was at school, but at home there was very little mention of the arts, theatre, etc. I found my own way, eventually, to discover it was well worth the wait. The internet already provides wonderful access, but I wonder how many kids gravitate towards online galleries and virtual tours of museums?

      Delete
  5. How sad that those families think culture is the province of schools! Presumably that means that they find going to art galleries hard work and boring, and not something they themselves want to do in their own time? Sigh!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can speak only as an American, with no experience of education in the UK, but I can definitely speak to parents shifting responsibility for their kids to the school. It is unfortunate, but the reality is swift becoming that schools play a larger part in raising children than their own parents do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Social and financial factors dictate a similar trend in the UK too, Aidan.

      Delete
  7. Well, you’ve hit a nerve here Martin. I seemed to spend my entire teaching career battling with this one. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the culture we were responsible for as far as the parents were concerned. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a parent say that they couldn’t get their child to do anything. Fortunately my schools were always strong on discipline, and children responded well to the care and support we gave them. The majority were from army families with one or both parents serving in Afghanistan or Iraq for much of the time. The ‘turbulence’ this created was more recently recognised by Ofsted, but not the effect on those damned league tables - curse them! We always tried to provide a wide range of visits and visitors to enrich their lives; sadly school was the only place where they experienced this.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know a number of teachers who teach at primary and senior schools, and I have a good idea how well most schools do under extremely difficult circumstances. It's just such a shame that when some children get caught between a constrained system and parental apathy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Martin, I think that those parents for whom cultural pursuits are an integral part of their own lives will automatically introduce their children to that side; as for the rest of them, better that schools attempt to try than that nobody does it.

    It's like reading. There's no need to encourage a child to read which grows up in a house full of books. As for the others, there is every need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Friko. Indeed, my own first experience of a museum, came by way of a school trip. But even school trips are very different prospect, today.

      Delete
  10. When I was a public school teacher on the high school level, I chaperoned students on trips to the opera, theater, ballet, museums and historical sites. The opera was my favorite, because very few of our students would have ever gone on their own, but they loved it. Today, unfortunately, we have so much high-stakes testing and some many accelerated classes that schools are hesitant to promote any activities that take kids out of class.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.