Overprotected and underprepared for life

26th June 2015 at 01:00

What keeps me awake at night is the fact that so many children aren't given the opportunity to be independent. We live in a society that seeks to protect young people. But in many instances, we are expected to live their lives for them. Where is the room for mistakes, for discovery?

When children become young adults, they are expected to be able to cope with the myriad issues that life throws at them - from simple tasks like form-filling to big decisions about personal relationships.

How are we preparing them for this when lots of primary-aged children can't even help themselves to glue and scissors?

At my school we champion a creative curriculum and independent learning. Our children choose how they will show their learning. They are held accountable for their work. They are always engaged, as everything is linked to a key topic question. Most importantly, they have ownership. They know what they need to get better at.

The teacher works with a guided group, while the rest of the class works independently.

I look at some schools and I despair at how controlled students are in the classroom. There are token attempts at freedom but they often prove to be false.

For example, I was recently excited to see an outdoor learning course on offer to our local primary schools. "Brilliant!" we thought. "Someone else who thinks outside is an extension of the classroom and should be used all the time."

How wrong we were. The course was about forest school, which gives the children somewhere to go for two hours a week while their class teacher plans lessons. All very lovely, but not the integrated approach we were hoping to see.

I would like to challenge all of you, who don't already, to let pupils make their own decisions. You will reap the benefits of the children in your care being able to take risks, to be more confident and, most importantly of all, to be engaged with their learning.

The writer is a teacher at a primary school in Devon

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

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