Stressed out 10 year olds
A report has been published claiming that children are growing up feeling anxious about the future and about the levels of testing to which they are being stretched. According to today’s Independent, it states that “Today’s children, it was generally felt, are being forced to grow up too soon and the prospects for society and the world they will inhabit look increasingly perilous”. Well, here’s my thoughts on what I’ve seen and heard of it.
First of all, testing. Why are we still testing 7 year olds? Surely by now people would have realised that its damaging to have tests piled on from such a young age?! Surely people realise that eventually the capabilities of children are not going to allow scope for improvement in their teaching? I remember the stress my sister, as a potential high-performer and as someone who took what her teachers said pretty seriously, suffered during the run up to each and every round of examination.
The anti-SATS campaign did look rather promising in about 2004, but sadly it has since died a death, presumably because schools, despite their ‘concerns’ at the state the tests leave their children in, actually feel its more important to avoid being given 0 points in the league table (I assume this is what would be done to a school who’s children weren’t entered for the tests) rather than save the children’s sanity (or the teachers, or for that matter, the parents).
The safety aspect is a huge concern. I have wondered off and on whether the number of child abuse cases is now higher or lower than it was 100 or 200 years ago. Or is it simply that we have better media coverage and better understanding of the problem. Indeed, this could affect any number of the different areas in which children and parents are now feeling worried: they feel worried because they’ve heard that something has happened to another child.
There are definitely those who talk about ‘defending the innocence of childhood’; was the bliss of childhood years gone by more one of ignorance than actual safety? Also, most children nowadays do not have to worry about the cane or other such device every time they screw up; as a dyspraxic I have a huge appreciation of this fact (that said, my spelling checker still wants to change dyspraxic to dyslexic, so maybe understanding hasn’t improved all that much!). Perhaps brighter aspects are not being looked at.
There was also a report about this on the BBC website, and I found myself drawn to one particular part of it, addressing the impact that the threat of global warming is having on these children: “Where schools had started engaging children with global and local realities as aspects of their education they were noticeably more upbeat.”
I’m curious about this, as I have a huge skepticism of government-mandated citizenship lessons/days in schools and the messages that can easily be fed from central government to children through them. Are the children more upbeat because they realise there are things they can do about global warming? Are the children more upbeat because they’ve been told that this is science, and sometimes scientists get it wrong? Or that technology can help us? Is this just another sign of how a modern state uses education to condition children into accepting its own explanation for events and circumstances?
I was a primary school child ten years ago and I really don’t think anything in this report would not have been noticed back then, with the exception of the influence of the Internet. Children were already playing plenty of violent computer games, and we already had letters going home to parents warning about known child abusers being seen close to schools. Sure, these are huge issues, but they could have been picked up on years ago, and some of the trends say more about our rising awareness of the world around us, either as kids or as adults, than they do about actual changes in society and child welfare.