Day 4 of my ‘Five Day Challenge’ – I knew that last week was the half term holiday because every time I walked into my local coffee shop it was more crowded than usual and a lot noisier. Don’t get me wrong, the children were not doing anything they shouldn’t do, apart from being somewhere that I have got used to going into knowing that my favourite seat would be free and it would be nice and peaceful. I think that it is a great idea for parents to bring young children into coffee shops so that, from an early age, they can get accustomed to this ‘coffee house culture’ – but they also need to get their offspring to bring a book with them to read, or a journal to write in, or a computer to use to search the Internet. Just letting them wander around and make a noise are not the habits that should be encouraged.
I spent over 35 years as a teacher and the one comment that was always guaranteed to get under my skin was when people said, (usually when you were at a party and inadvertently let slip what your job was!) “Tell me, why do you teachers get such long holidays? If you were doing my job you would realise what it was like in the real world. On top of that you don’t start working until 9 o’clock in the morning and then finish at half past three!” This always wound me up, I always rose to the bait and would spend the next hour explaining how difficult our job was and why we needed the holidays that we had.
I’m now beginning to have second thoughts and am starting to wonder just why do these children have such long holidays! There is, of course, no logic to the length of the school day or term times. We start at 9 o’clock in the morning because that’s the time we have always started school. It’s the same with school finishing time. Is this because children learn better between the hours of nine & three-thirty – of course not. The idea of long summer holidays began when children were needed to help at harvest time on the farms. One of the reasons that we stick with these outdated ideas is because educationalists, people who know about children and learning, are not strong enough to challenge the status quo which is guarded by government regulations, teacher unions and parental conservatism.