To demonstrate just how little I do know, I shall make a wild assertion, entirely unsupported by clinical trials or any credible scientific methodology:
The process of bringing up children to be worthy, law-abiding and productive citizens shares one remarkable similarity with the efficient operation of a market ecomony: It is not possible to gather sufficient information to allow it to be planned from the centre.To paraphase a popular slogan untimely ripped from a televisual advertisement, whilst I may be entirely ignorant on these matters, I do know a man who isn't. But then, she isn't a man either.
Enter the simply inestimable Dr Miriam Stoppard, who rounds on the absur
I can do one more thing though: I can demonstrate just exactly what a crock of sh*te [forgive me - this topic always makes me cross] is the idea that "the man in Whitehall would know what is best" for my children.
The idea that there can be an infant curriculum is just so obviously laughable as to be, well, obviously laughable. Every child is unique. Each develops in his own time and in his own way, with his own character, with his own likes and dislikes, his own strengths and weaknesses. Worse still, the mark of a healthy, normal child - the irrefutable evidence of a parent that is doing a "good job" - is the degree to which the child appears to be an individual - i.e. that resists attempts at box-ticking.
Consider, if you feel up to it, the three young masters Pedant-General. They come from the same stock [aspertions to the contrary will be met by stinging writs from a pretty vicious lawyer wot I kno - what are you saying about my wife?]. They have been raised by the same people and under the same conditions of faded glory, noble rot that sort of thing. In short, they share both nature and nurture, yet they could not be more different.
The Eldest Master Pedant-General:
- walked at 16 months;
- talked at 16 months;
- had conquered the word "Paediatrician" [which I can still barely spell. Ninme, before you get excited, you spell it wrong in the US] at 18 months;
- wants to be a scientist;
- probably will be an artist of some sort (see here and here, bearing in mind that he is only 5 and a half);
- indulges his own interests regardless of what his peers might think, yet;
- is incredibly easily led astray and joins into small child mob bad behaviour unless kept on a very short leash;
- can't kick or catch a ball to save his life;
- frankly isn't remotely interested in being able to kick or catch a ball;
- talks loudly and incessantly, particularly in the morning;
- has no time for jigsaws;
- cannot be prised from a book - indeed I have had a letter published in the Times on the topic of his fondest for books;
- never follows instructions when building lego: he builds what he wants to build;
- can discern - correctly - citrine from quartz, malachite from tourmaline and a Tornado from an F14 Tomcat;
- goes about in a sort of amiable daze, deeply consumed with his own thoughts.
- walked at 14 months;
- talked at 18 months;
- wants to be a cowboy or Robin Hood;
- currently is a knight and a very chivalrous one at that;
- is canny beyond measure - his favourite phrase when caught in the act of some misdemeanour is to bat his eyelids at Lady P-G and say "Mummy, you're so boooful". Those who suggest, scurrilously, that her teeth are Lady P-G's softest part will need to revise their estimation of her on seeing her reaction to this;
- has a natural eye for a ball;
- loves jigsaws;
- doesn't really draw;
- climbs anything and everything - he is a regular little spiderman;
- Runs with the pack, but knows how to deflect trouble.
- walked just before his first birthday;
- isn't talking yet;
- weighs more than his middle brother and can pin him to the floor if required (He sometimes does so when it isn't strictly actually required, but there we are);
- doubles up as an automatic custard-eating machine - you never know when you might need one;
- might actually be a Pterosaur, rather than a small boy. It is possible that this might discount him from the analysis on the basis that he is an unreliable data point, but hey, who said this was a scientific survey.
There is nothing wrong with your child. Need anything else?There is only one box that needs ticking: It would be labelled:
Is this child happy, healthy and displaying an interest in the world around? Or not?We don't need a government inspectorate to answer that and no government inspectorate is going to be able to create the conditions for it to be answered satisfactorily if such conditions do not exist at the time of inspection. In essence this approach is almost a parody of this ghastly Nu-Lab government. It is about symptoms, not causes. It is about equality of outcome, not opportunity. It is about state control not individual freedom.
What we do need