Around here it’s the first day of the new school year and I feel queasy.
On social media, proud parents are posting messages wishing their little darlings and little darling’s friends well at their new school/in their new class. There are photographs of slightly embarrassed children in new school uniforms and comments saying how excited the children are. And I feel even more queasy.
In all honesty I can tell you that there are still nights I wake up terrified from a dream about trying to memorise a complex school timetable or being forced to play volleyball. Even entering a school building makes me go cold inside. The fact that our local swimming pool is on school grounds put me off going for ages.
So, on this day, I am thinking of all those children who hate school. Who, like me, will be educated despite rather than because of school. Who will wake up every weekday morning for years dreading the day ahead. Who, more than 30 years after they last walked out of their school gate, are still adversely affected by their experiences.
I don’t have children and I’m not a teacher, but if you are I urge you to remember that school days are not always the happiest days of our lives. I know that home education is not possible for everyone, but if your children have to go to school, please support them if they find it a difficult experience. And if you are a teacher, please remember that there may be children in your class who are terrified or stressed or simply unhappy; that bullying can be very subtle; that not being good at sports can be incredibly isolating; that being different can make you a victim. Children who feel this way almost certainly can’t tell you, for fear of the response of their classmates or because they simply daren’t speak to you.
We all learn in different ways, and a classroom is not the ideal place for everyone… a bit more flexibility in our education system would help. However, I doubt this is something that we will see soon in the UK. Anyway, for the moment I just want to highlight the issue and say to any children reading this who feel this way, there are people who understand… and life is SO much better once you don’t have to go to school any more.