Chatting with a Mum at match tea recently, I was delighted to hear that, in her opinion, we run a great school where children are kind to each other and, by and large, adhere to our school values. She then went on to tell me that, in her opinion, this might not be ideal as this might result in her son perhaps being a little unprepared for some of the harsher realities of life in a senior school. What she wanted was for him to be of good character but sufficiently worldly wise to be able to deal with tougher social situations later in his education.
In reality, I don’t think that she needs to worry too much. We do want our pupils to stay young for as long as we can achieve. We want them to develop the good sides to their characters knowing that there is time enough later in life to develop the ability to cope with more challenging situations. And this is exactly what a good school does. We don’t insulate and cocoon children but we allow them to be gently exposed to progressively more challenge so that they can develop sufficient grit and character to enable them to cope well and thrive.
However, I was glad to hear this Mum talk in this way as I think it showed a realistic and perhaps even enlightened attitude to parenting and bringing up children...she was wise enough to realise that, if we fall into the trap of shielding our children from every challenging situation that they might meet, we will ultimately deprive them of the opportunities to build resilience, develop grit and learn how to cope with some of the challenges that life will throw at them.
So here’s to getting the balance right...
John F Gilmour