I chuckled this morning as I read an article in The Guardian about Lucy Kellaway, columnist and associate editor of the Financial Times who is going to become a maths teacher in a “challenging” London school. Don’t panic FT readers, she will still write for the paper because “there are long school holidays”. Good luck with that. After 25 years in the profession I know of no teacher who successfully holds down a demanding sideline keeping them occupied during the school holidays, or wants to. Perhaps I should send her a rubber ring and a snorkel – she doesn’t know what she’s missing.
I couldn’t wait for my long Christmas holiday to update my blog – it’s already 3 months late – due to work commitments. My holiday snaps are safely filed away on Facebook as I stare out to the brownish sea of the north Norfolk coast. In my head it’s really Ionian blue.
Is anyone else baffled by children of today, or is it just me? How is it that young children (boys and girls!) flawlessly recite ALL the lyrics from Frozen and yet I struggle to understand them when they talk to me. When I ask a simple question, a reply in a full sentence is a novelty. I can only assume they don’t understand me either. Reception colleagues in my cluster agree that Communication and Language is increasingly poorer each year. How is it that a four year old can manipulate a key pad and mouse competently but struggle to dress and undress independently? Buttons? Far too difficult. Laces? They no longer exist thanks to (noisy) Velcro. Ties now have handy elastic, which doubles up as an effective flicking weapon.
Five years ago, and that’s being generous, the average four year old could generally draw a person with arms and legs. These days I’m given lines and squiggles and a confident look that says, “It’s abstract”. Ask them to hold their pencil correctly they glare at me as if I’ve completely lost it. Maybe I have.
Are we in danger of cultivating a generation who without a device attached to their face will not be able to converse well with their neighbour, colleague or family. Read a book, write a postcard, go outside, learn the kazoo. Model something that shows children it’s also cool to detach your face from your phone – and look happy about it!?
(I’m not implying that you should be 14 before you go to school by the way. That would be silly)
I’m four going on fourteen
My shoes are shiny and my shirt is clean
I’m ready for school, I’m four going on fourteen
I don’t need my mum, she just cries at the gate
She clings to me tightly and she’s making me late,
I barely turn ‘round as I wave her goodbye
My teacher looks trendy she wears Super Dry
I like my new classroom, it’s not a bad place
It’s just like mum’s office, I’m impressed by this space
I hang up my coat, put my book bag away
Clock in on the white board, I’ll stay for the day
I’ve ordered my lunch from the menu provided
Vegetarian curry, a healthy option I’ve decided
Heading straight to the lap top I log in with my name
I see Minecraft is replaced by some kids phonics game
There’s no Nether on here, Ocelots or sword
What’s going on, I’m already bored
We all cross our legs, sit in rows nice and neat
It’s really uncomfortable, I’d much rather a seat,
I’m on the back row, it’s the cool place to be
But I’m that far away, I can’t really see,
There are 41 dinosaurs beginning with A
But I’m learning about digraphs in phonics today
I wonder how many are thinking the same
That school’s interrupting their Minecraft game
“When is it home time?” I’ve been here a while,
The teacher studies her watch and replies with a smile
“It’s only half ten, and we’ve still lots to do.
Like reading and writing and number work too!”
She shows me a pencil, I must look bemused
What am I to do, I can’t possibly refuse,
I take it from her as I shudder and sigh
“Just write your name on top of the line.”
This starting school is not as I thought,
I liked the idea and the rucksack dad bought
My shoes are shiny and my shirt is still clean
I’m not ready for this, I’m four not fourteen.