Tuesday you have Spanish

Posted on 21/10/2013

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We are racing, in a race, all of us. We first thought it was about getting good grades at school, then at university, then it was getting promoted, then married, and then a house. If at this point you have not decided to get out of the race, you will then turn the race to your kids, it is there turn.

We have been working on this project, which kicks off with a film, Project Wild Thing. It has had a huge impact on me, the way I see my own life and the life of my family. The subject of the film, at least on the surface, is about reconnecting kids with nature. Once you see the film and start to explore the topic with your family, you see this is really an examination of how we have been bringing up our kids. We have been too busy to do it ourselves and have switched to screens, sleeping techniques and soothers, all for us to keep living our lives how we used to — why is that we had kids in the first place? This need to get them under control, sleep through the night, keep quiet, we are control freaks.

One of the people in the film is an author Jay Griffiths, and she has had the largest impact on me. She speaks about the will of the child, and how that should never be overridden, it is for them to explore, to risk, to fall, to know their own limits, not those imposed by others. And this will, is linked to their wildness, and with this wildness they will grow themselves, they will play and define themselves.

If the race is not over as we become parents, we start to put the same pressure on our kids that we have put on ourselves. They need to go to play groups, and sing-a-longs, and the gym, and swimming, and music classes, they even need to learn Mandarin; this is all before they are two. This has to stop, the best thing for them is to be outside, in nature, exploring, jumping in puddles, looking at worms, eating the worms, stepping on the ants. What a world they have to explore, and decide for themselves what is dangerous, or what we risk is bringing them up without the ability to decide for themselves. And without that ability we risk them becoming an obedient person, that is only able to deal with normal, and the usual, and has built up no resilience to the tough times or the times when it does not all make sense. That is unfortunately, increasingly going to be the future.

When I heard the other day, a parent say to their young teenage daughter “On Tuesday you have Spanish” my heart sank. How did we get here, how did we get to the point that learning a language was something you did on a Tuesday. And why as a young teenager would that be the thing you would want to do? This is not about whether learning languages is a good thing, or whether studying or even cultural experiences are useful for children. It is the idea of manufacturing a learning experience for someone’s childhood, that is a tragedy. The last thing we need to do is program our children’s lives, we have been scared into thinking that they will miss out on something or that they will lose in the race.

Time to stop being in the race. It is not a race worth winning.

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Posted in: Family, Life