23rd July 2018
As a child I’m not sure school is where I did my engaging with the world and learning, but I did play. Free play. Unstructured play. Imaginative play.
We used our environment as inspiration; creating our own cities, houses, farms, restaurants, TV channels, spears, paint, doll’s houses, schools…you name it we played it.
My parents taught me to read through reading to me. No Jolly Phonics or other mass produced program making someone very wealthy in my early years of education. I remember being locked up in the classroom for much of my young life, biding my time, itching to get out and play.
When we weren’t in school, we were playing. From dawn til dusk. Our time wasn’t scheduled to the nth degree with extra-curricula activities.
We had no adult supervision whilst playing, though we knew where they were should we need them and a broken arm needed adult intervention. There were no other serious injuries I can recall, cuts and scrapes a plenty though. I don’t even remember wearing shoes in childhood, other than to school or church. We learned to be safe.
Our brains were built through play and rightly so; that is the point of childhood, to freely grow and develop. Cut to today and most children are missing out on their childhood. An extremely sad state of affairs. A worry for our future.
In the past we transported ourselves and goods via horse. Do we still put hay in our engines? Of course not, the fuel changed with the changes to transport. Our world has changed dramatically, our schools haven’t.
We are still pushing children into the sausage machine system (mainstream schools) making them fit in one end, chewing them up and spitting them out, squashed into their skins, ready for the workforce.
But what will that workforce look like? The trend towards self employment and decentralisation must be front of mind. We need collaborators, creators, communicators, connectors.
Most of the great thinkers of our time have posthumously been diagnosed with what some refer to as “neurodevelopmental disorders”. Autism, dyslexia, ADHD are some of the labels that have been assigned to great creatives and thought leaders like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, John Lennon, the list goes on and on.
I will add a few more female names that are often missing in the generic lists of change makers and genii, like Marie Curie or Amelia Earheart, whom I imagine would be diagnosed on the spectrum today. I’m also certain that Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Mother Theresa, all with high intellects, strong emotional sensitivity and sense of justice would also sit somewhere on the spectrum.
Where would we be had they fallen prey to the sausage machine system and listened to how damaged they were and how much fixing they needed to fit into a neurotypical world!
Natural selection is playing it’s part beautifully. For example, we are now seeing huge increases of children diagnosed with autism. Is that due to a better understanding of autism or are the numbers increasing with each generation as the genes are handed down?
No labels equals no limits. Let’s allow our Einstein’s to blossom and flourish. We all have strengths and weaknesses. At the moment mainstream education has chosen which strengths will be supported.
The “system” decides the round holes. If you’re a square peg, or a triangular peg or even a star shaped peg, you won’t fit. Presently around a third of children fit through the round holes and are supported by the schooling system we know as mainstream education.
What is this “system” anyway? At the moment and for time immemorial it’s been a hierarchy and the person who yells the loudest or kills the most people or orders the most people killed or takes all the money sits at the top. Bossiness is not leadership!
There’s no I in leader.
We need a new system. A collective of equals working for the greater good. Doing what we all intrinsically know is right and just. A new paradigm. Fortunately, through social media, we are connected like never before. Block chain will level the playing field further. The much awaited dawning of true equality is here, thanks to neurodiversity.
Occasionally we have been lucky enough to see leaders who are there for the right reasons; to do right for the people rather than to stroke their own egos and massage their own agendas. Now they won’t have a choice. The people have the opportunity to connect and raise their collective voices.
Back to play and it’s role in human development and evolution. This article champions play based learning and is a path we must take. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12086430
New Zealand has done away with National Standards to make way for what we know children really need – play. Finland also has a student centred, student driven philosophy. Gonski 2.0 calls for the same.
Malcolm Turnbull said he would support this, but doesn’t realise that his education minister, Simon Birmingham, is saying he won’t support Gonski reforms. He is saying nationwide testing (NAPLAN) will remain. He is saying cookie cutter curriculum will remain. He is saying sausage machine system is king. He is saying I don’t give a rat’s that I’m hurting kids and teachers and their families.
He wrongly believes parents want to know their children’s rank and file, no matter the damage, and if that’s going to buy some votes I’ll do that but alternatively, Simon thinks, if it’s more conducive to winning votes I’ll change my position entirely.
We need to stop en mass prescribed education. We need to champion neurodiversity. We need to foster equality, respect and connection to ones attributes, not focus on lack and deficits. We need to take political point scoring out of the classroom for good. Give teaching back to the teachers.
Curriculum needs to be developmentally appropriate, student driven and student centred. The first step in doing this, in truly transforming education in Australia and giving children their childhoods once again, is to put an end to standardised national testing regimes that waste time and money. One-size-does-NOT-fit-all!
Schools are not businesses and our precious children are not to be mined and polished for sale. Scrap NAPLAN now! NAPLAN heralded the beginning of the corporatisation of education in mainstream Australia.
Unfortunately we are still ruled by politicians who know nothing about our children or what they need. Fortunately good teachers do, which is why they have been gagged by the bureaucracy. In a recent Sparkt poll 97% of teachers wished to scrap NAPLAN.
Fortunately this is a democracy and you can vote out people who damage children for their own benefit. Sign the petition. Save our kids.