I, Dear Reader, was one of these children.
Studying for my degree a little later how I cursed this educational approach. Introduced to linguistics, nouns and adverbs had been mythical creatures to me, the like of which I’d never encountered.
I longed for my privately educated friends awareness of the present participle as I feebly attempted to understand sentence structure.
Well now it’s back, and what madness is this? Children under eleven are going to be expected to understand fronted adverbials and split diagraphs (no me either and I apparently have some linguistic ability).
Surely unless you are studying language at least undergraduate degree level, these terms are little more than a waste of ink. If you are under eleven, what possible use could thy be to you?
I have three children. For experimental purposes (I jest) I sent one to Mainstream, one to Special School and put one into mainstream before removing him to home for a year and then popping him into Special Ed, just to compare.
Special school education can bring many conflicting emotions to a newbie parent of an additional needs child. Sadness, a sense of failure, concern about stigma and general fear of the unknown.
In this litigious society parents have to fill in a lot of forms. Can he wear a plaster? Can we apply sunscreen? Can she be photographed for the school website?
When Pearl started Special School my favourite form came home. Can she stroke, groom and feed the school donkeys?
This distilled is the difference between Special Ed and mainstream.
The essence of Special Ed is a diversified curriculum.
You take the child as the centre of the process and fit all the things they need to learn around them in a way that is compatible with their learning style and strengths.
Pearl is very good at Science it runs in the family. Her Dad is a Software Engineer, and my degree is Science based. Big sister (aka The Glory) is heading for University to study Biology.
Has Pearl passed tests that show she is a scientist? Has she completed worksheets? Is she preparing for her Year 6 SATS?
Well no. She loves gardening, caring for animals, examining plants and flowers. She likes to plant, learn how seeds propagate and experience textures and structures of species.
Her interaction with the natural world in this way piques her curiosity and encourages interaction with others through her PODD communication book (Linguistics and Language).
It teaches her about texture, form and colour (Design) She learns about nurturing growth and caring. It opens the door to teaching English, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
It has value. Not measurable, box ticking, league table value it’s true, but value none the less.
I watch the Mainstream sub group of my experimental cohort, I mean family, fear she is stupid, as she has not received one A * at A level, as she struggles with feelings of low self-esteem and depression I wonder if mainstream education is all it’s cracked up to be.
We seem to be valuing academic achievement over mental health, and creating a well-rounded person. CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services) are overwhelmed with referrals.
I would like all schools to be Special. To allow children to benefit from a diversified curriculum, would allow teachers to teach creatively and loosen the ties on the reliance on league tables.
Maybe it’s time to work out what we really value as a society, an ability to recognize a split infinitive, or a creative, emotionally resilient learner who enjoys knowledge for its own sake, and can apply that learning in real world situations.