In an episode of Chuggington we were watching this morning we learned an important lesson. The apprentice – Eddie – kept being late for work and was very tired, it turned out that he was late because he couldn’t afford to live in Chuggington and had a long commute to work from home – the train connections weren’t very good (they’d probably privatised that section of the rail network) and he was often late, despite his best efforts to be on time. His colleagues, the small trainee trains, felt sorry for him and didn’t want him to lose his job. So, they found an old train carriage and transformed it into a little home for Eddie, which he could park in Chuggington (the local council didn’t seem to have a lot of concerns about people living wherever they want, perhaps they wanted to help too). They got the managers to help and everyone wanted to be a part of changing Eddie’s situation so he wouldn’t be so tired and sad and could go to work. With their help he was happy, had a home and a job he loved and was never late again.
It got me thinking: at what point do we stop teaching our children these important lessons? When do we stop teaching them that it’s people that matter and not just the money they can generate?
I then switched to twitter and read two tweets about Michael Gove – the first about him suggesting that 4 year olds are tested during their first few weeks at school in order to measure progress at age 7 and the second stating that he wanted to ‘get tough on bad behaviour’ in schools, dispensing ‘tough yet proportionate’ punishments. This, coupled with every other policy I have read from his department, made me think and my question is this: when did we as a society let Michael Gove down so badly? In what world did we let him go, unchallenged, through our education system developing these ideas and forgetting about the people involved? It’s a crisis amongst the ruling class and we as parents have a responsibility to the next generation of adults to stop the cycle of abuse. We have a responsibility to set the record straight and not let those politicians, who would like us to believe that those out of work are solely responsible for their situation, continue to run the country via their own specific brand of divide and conquer political strategy. We must not allow them to achieve their objective of making us hate those who are different to us. No man is an island. There are a lifetime of reasons why people are how they are – understanding those reasons and working together with people will help them improve their lives.
Stricter punishment and more tests would not have helped Eddie get to work on time. What helped Eddie get to work on time was asking him why he was late and then helping him out of his difficult situation. Michael Gove and all his friends in government could learn from this programme – aimed at preschool children.
So, Michael Gove and friends: I am sorry. I am sorry that society has let you down to the extent that you genuinely believe that children need more tests and stricter punishment in order to improve their lives. A radical rethink of what we raise our children to put value in is required – now more than ever – if we are serious about living in, as your own department states, a ‘highly educated society in which opportunity is more equal for children and young people no matter what their background or family circumstances.’