“Magistrates had ruled that Jon Platt had no case to answer as, overall, his daughter had attended school regularly.”
Every year, my father’s factory fortnight started the week before the end of summer term. I can’t remember when we stopped but we would have that last week off as a matter of course. No problem. We always went to school. I’ve just checked prices on a holiday for a family of five on one of the Canary Islands. It was the same Thompson deal. The difference between the second week of July and the second week of August was over a thousand pounds. Isn’t this blatant profiteering on the part of the holiday companies? “But your child’s education is worth more than the price of a holiday,” may also be a valid argument.
But is it? What will a child miss in a week in July? A sports day? (Not every child’s favourite.) A special school trip? (Day out versus a week of sun and fun.) A themed week? (The mind boggles; Oliver Twist versus walking Disney characters.)
You can just hear the platitudes emanating from teachers, headteachers, politicians or anyone else who expresses an interest. The campaign for real education is particularly vocal about many such issues. They always manage to get involved in interviews and discussions through the media.
I think most will agree that it is important for children to understand the value of daily attendance and attention. Education is a vitally important part of childhood. Let me stop at the word education. Where does education occur? In the classroom? Possibly. At home? Possibly. In the playground? Here I vote for a resounding emphatic YES! Surely the playground is the best platform a child has to learn about the pecking order and inequalities that may stand in the way of his or her dreams? The playground is the classroom of reality.
And how much education goes on when a child is on holiday? Learning about new areas, seeing their parents in more relaxed mode or at least away from the pressures of work, making new friends from other places or getting first-hand experience of a different culture.
Then why does the actual classroom matter? If a child attends regularly, has a good attention span and a healthy ambition to learn then it is a rather useful place.
Similarly for those who may not be so good at the above, it is still experience in the way of the world, as are the general day to day affairs of the school itself. Assemblies, lunch times, registration, discipline, letters home etc are all good examples of how a community functions. They are good habits; good in the sense that they provide a model of a how a society operates. But it’s a habit and not a law. It is general but not an all pervading absolute set of rules. “They will miss important work!” is perhaps the most repeated reason. “They must take some homework with them.”
If you look at the work of some philosophers; Cicero, Thomas Aquinas or John Stuart Mill for instance. These men offered ideas of being bound by hard and fast rules which lauded hardship and eschewed expediency.
What would Cicero say about this? “You must never take the easier way. This is no way to build resilience or strength of character.”
Don’t you think it’s nothing more than a tool of power? Aren’t we just being suppressed into the same grinding regimes we have historically fought against? I don’t know the details of the case that went to the high court but this sort of thing is a local news regular giving both sides an opportunity to air their beliefs and principles.
My view? Sometimes individuals in individual schools have an agenda with individual children and families. And this is one channel through which such issues may emerge. So I think it best to avoid any sweeping judgement because I do not have enough knowledge. But I remember a parent telling porkies, using family sickness as a way of explaining their long weekend away. I even remember a teacher doing the same thing. In fact, I popped a sickie once so I could attend a fifth round replay of the FA Cup. Through such innocent deception many arguments may form. But I think the business of taking time out of school is not the most important topic.
There are many more important issues raging at the moment. Education is important and it is important that we continue to discuss it.
I never try to impose views and opinions through my blogs but would rather just give out food for thought. For those who may not know, I spent twe ty two years teaching and I loved being in the classroom.
I have written this without any consideration to subordinate conjunctions. (If you want to know what they are, ask anyone who’s just done key stage two SATs.) I also have no idea if this is in the active or passive voice or has any examples of determiners or diagraphs, but that was a piece of alliteration. If you google the above-mentioned philosophers you can get a general idea of what drove them. I apologise for my scant knowledge of such “worthy” beings.
Thank-you for reading.