A group of 130 British academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders have asked that formal education be delayed for children until age six or seven at the earliest. It is interesting to see more and more professionals coming to this conclusion at the same time governments are pushing for earlier and earlier education and testing.
Not surprisingly, the Education Secretary basically called the group stupid:
A spokesman for Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the signatories were “misguided”, suggesting they advocated dumbing down.
“These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools,” the spokesman said.
“We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer — a system freed from the grip of those who bleat bogus pop-psychology about ‘self image’, which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up.”
What the Education Secretary apparently fails to grasp is that understanding child development and advocating on behalf of small children for expectations that are appropriate is NOT dumbing down. What is dumb is expecting children to be tested at age five and be victims of academic pressure before they have even had time to develop emotionally, mentally and physically in a way that is appropriate.
I have yet to meet anyone in real life or online who believes that we should delay academics for young children because they want to promote a culture of low expectations for children. It is just the opposite. Those who support the delay of academics do so because they care deeply about children and their long term emotional, physical, social and academic health.
Looking at education as only about learning how to solve hard problems misses out on much of what education should be.