Snow nearly always catches us out in the UK. We cannot be geared up for it in the way that Scandinavia, the Alpine regions and Canada have to be. We just don’t know if we’re going to get any – or if we are when, how much, or how long it will last. It is a hazard of our particular climate and setting on the edge of Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. But when it happens business always moans about the impact on the economy and the schools shut down with children ‘losing’ days of education.
Well do they really lose days of education? This is to confine education to the narrow band of academic lessons that take place in the school environment. A couple of days lost can be compensated for in due course; and decent planning surely anticipates every child potentially losing some days each year due to absence through illness. In some ways everyone being off is easier to handle – teachers know exactly what everyone has ‘missed’ rather than the more random missing that takes place through occasional days off sick.
It is wonderful to see children enjoying themselves out in the snow, throwing snowballs, building snowmen, kicking the white stuff in the air, flicking the snow off trees and bushes, sledging etc. Thet discover things about themselves and one another through such play. They learn the value of basic things in life like clothing and heating. Yes they may also learn something of the dangers and risks; the difficulties bad weather causes. They may also learn the value of being slowed down, taking life at a different pace, realising that we cannot control things to fit ourselves all of the time.
Education is about so much more than passing exams, reaching targets and grades; it is about life and being a valuable human person. So let’s not whinge or whine about a couple of days ‘lost’ let’s rather rejoice in the different learning that has been taking place, acknowledge afresh the deep importance of play and fun in children’s (and adults’) lives. Let’s keep trying to recover a full view of education not a narrowly academic one.
I will conclude this theme with a reference I have just come across this in the wonderful weekly digest produced by the National Children’s Bureau
Gillian Low, President of the Girls’ Schools Association, warned that pupils are living in an “age of anxiety” and should be allowed to adopt a more “carefree” attitude to life. Addressing the Association’s annual conference in Manchester, Ms Low added that education has become focused on exam “hoop-jumping” and has shifted towards “inspection rather than inspiration”. She said that everything today‟s teenagers did was geared towards their future study and career, with young people no longer able to take gap years before university to broaden their horizons. She concluded: “We must not ignore those things which deeply enrich lives. After all, there are no A-stars for determination, integrity, leadership potential, responsibility, kindness, common sense or a positive attitude towards life”.