Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Good Childhood Inquiry - a Chance for HEors to Put GB Back on Track!

Via BBC we hear that Unicef reports that:

"The UK has been accused of failing its children, as it comes bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries. "

Now, why would that be, we wonder? Lack of a sense of well-being doesn't seem to be a major problem for this bunch of children, their main concerns in an otherwise happy existence being that the government keeps out of their lives and let them get on with things as they are.

To coincide with the Unicef report above, the Children's Society has set about asking children what they think of their lives via their Good Childhood Inquiry. Of course, we've only just finished doing the one for the UN, but hey ho - Ds is motivated to do it since he is very eager to preserve his way of life and am off to see what Dd thinks of the whole idea.


Rachel Reed said...

When I first saw this, I wasn't that surprised.

I think we can blame it on a number of different things, but IMO one of the main ones is that parents are pushed by society and the government (through their vouchers) to put children into day care too soon.

They are simply not spending enough time with their parents. I agree you need time to yourself, but looking at my own family and people I know with kids, they are in nursery or pre-school so young, and for long periods of time. I do think it very sad.

Surely that is a place to start?

Carlotta said...

I agree that this would make a huge difference, yes, Rachel.

I think that useful information about the attachment needs of infants has become lost in the last couple of generations because of much smaller and more nuclear families, bottle feeding, working mums and segregated age groups in schools. Huge swathes of the population of the Western World grow up having no idea about the attachment needs of infants.

I was really struck by an interview Davina McCall did for Comic Relief a few years back. She was talking to a desperately poor Nigerian (I think) young teenage girl who was acting in loco parentis to tiny sibling and was clearly meeting attachment needs very, very well - lots of carrying, attention etc. Davina tried to joke with teen along the lines of "Is he hard work?" Girl looked utterly baffled....along lines of "what can you possibly mean?" The fact of the child's needs were shocking to Davina, (newly a mum herself) and so much a simple fact of life to the African child, that the two could barely understand one another.

Anonymous said...

I saw a television report on this finding and it was very revealing. It underlined exactly what mistake we make each time we consider the issue - and it is a mistake we make without fail!

Apparently, the British children have the worst rate for teen pregnancy, most fear of peers and life in general, least likely to aspire to much, most likely to go to excess in drink etc, most likely to be disaffected at school. Most likely to be depressed.

They interviewed a group of Dutch children, who were high on the happiness scale. These children interestingly thought the problems English children experienced were due to the number of restrictions they had and lack of peer support. In Holland, the children said, nothing is forbidden, they are also surrounded by lots of concerned and protective peers and adults, so with this support network and with this lack of interest in doing things that weren't forbidden anyway, they could feel pretty good about themselves. Basically, these children made very pertinent observations.

Then, the panel of so called British experts made remarks along the lines that the solution was to impose more boundaries on children and that it was a lack of boundaries and discipline that was the problem!! Duh! It's as if the Dutch children had not said a word!
Not just ASBOs, one chap said, but all sorts of lower levels of discipline too.

And, whilst I believe that Dutch children have to go to school, I also know that their schools have much smaller classes and a great deal more freedom. For instance, they can get up and wonder around when the teacher is talking...

Anyway, we are not far off getting back to 'we should just smack their bottoms or send them away to school to have some sense beaten into them'. When are we going to see sense?
Our problem seems to me to be about our inability to learn from our errors.


Carlotta said...

Hi D,

Thanks for all of that. V. revealing. I love the idea of being able to walk around a classroom when the teacher is talking.

Sort of related point...but I realise that I have only recently learned how to pace my thinking but that this pays enormously when I do it. If I try to push myself when there is simply too much information stored consciously, I get it muddled. If I take a step back, go do something else altogther, then the ideas just sort themselves out as if by themselves. Even lying down sometimes improves my thinking,

This is the sort of thing that school children have very little chance of exploring when they are learning, which seems such a shame.