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Friday, 17 August 2007


Who am I to criticize the perfect teachers and their super policies at the darling nursery school my munchkins attended? I am the first to admit that what I know about education could be written on the back of a postage stamp.

I simply wish that I had the courage to ask the teachers to explain the rationale for some of the decisions they have made on occasion, but of course I (along with every other parent at the school gates) am simply terrified of causing offence...

At the recent sports day for example, not a single child was congratulated for winning any of the competitions! Instead, every single poppet who took part received a celebratory sticker. I am not entirely convinced that this complete avoidance of competition is preparing the darlings for real life. Surely we should celebrate any and every aptitude, a child who does not win a sack race will hardly be scarred with a label of failure. Every child is good at something, if it is not reading or writing, it could just be the egg and spoon race!

Consider the consequences of the recent sports day at the nursery school on our holiday to Cornwall for example. One evening after the children's supper the staff of the divine hotel held a party game session in the lounge for the children. Max and Freya sat happily at the coffee table, with their little bingo cards and pens, eagerly ticking off the numbers as they were called. Sweet Freya was incredibly lucky, and won the first line,... and then the first full house... and was bestowed with two successive prizes!

This was simply incredibly good luck. Several of the other children clearly appeared crushed by this, (sigh).

When a new game began and once again darling Freya won the first line, my burly boy Max was devastated by the complete injustice of the situation, tossed his bingo card on the floor his eyes filled with tears and retreated under the coffee table.

"It is not fair mummy," he howled, "everyone should have a turn at winning, this is tewwibly unfair".

The darling boy had a good point, but life is just not fair, and he has been encouraged to feel aggrieved in this situation because occasions such as the sports day have not been utilised to demonstrate the concepts of winning and loosing. The boy is simply not being prepared for life.

In the end, (in order to spare the tiny boy any blushes when he looks back on this occasion as a young man) I was forced to promise to have an enormous play frame built in the back garden upon our return from holiday, just to coax him out!

These super schools - well intentioned as they clearly must be, are simply not preparing these munchkins for real life...


Drunk Mummy said...

Dear Dulwich Mum, you are to be congratulated on your attempts to prepare your little ones for real life (unlike their schools, as you so rightly point out).
I can just imagine dear Freya in about 15 years time, out for a night at the bingo, with her pint of snakebite and bag of Porky Scratchings.

Stay at home dad said...

Had I known in advance about my lack of childhood success I'd probably have opted for the 'everone's a winner' approach!

Frog in the Field said...

Dear DM,
Max should have bet Freya he could get some wonderfully expensive gift from his mother if he sulked correctly and cleaned up from both of you!
I will be trying this very tactic on my mother when she visits on Tuesday.
I remember Bingo at school a year or two ago, one child won three times in a row. One of the other Mums on the table was visibly furious and even started to complain how simply unfair it was on the other children, I'm sure she considered sulking under the table, in fact, I think , by her expression generally, she still is sulking!

dulwichmum said...

Darling Drunk Mummy!

I am on the stool of repentance! I cannot believe I allowed my daughter to engage in such a base game!!! Clearly I am far too exhausted as a working mother. Perhaps a weekend in Moroccor with Lady MacLeod is in order.

Lovely Stay at home dad,

Do you really think so?

Lovely Frog,

Ha, ha, ha. You are a scream. I cannot believe allowed them to gamble either. Shame on me.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I have a horrid competitive streak when it comes to sport...i ran in a mother's race at sports day a couple of years ago. We all set off and i wasn't sure if anyone was taking it seriously, then a skinny south african woman flashed past me. The red mist came down and i chased her down to the line...she won by a whisker. Byatch! I'm all for medals when you win, and if you lose, well shape up or ship out.

DJ Kirkby said...

Yes absolutly! They area llowed to be children far too long nowadays! When will the boarding schools realise that to be over achievers they need to attend from the age of 2?

IngeniousRose said...

Ah the old enormous play frame idea! I tried that myself but every time my daughter did not achieve first place she got so upset I had to add even more to it. We practically have a theme park in our garden now. It makes her popular with the local children of course. I actually wonder now though if she was deliberately achieving second place!

antarctichousehusband said...

As always, DM, you surf the zeitgeist. This morning on Broadcasting House (Radio 4) they had a discussion about how lack of competition in schools encourages gang culture. Poor little Max will be requesting a flick knife for Christmas next!

dulwichmum said...

Lovely Pig,

Exactly, I'm all for medals if you win... Freya won every race she entered on spots day too! Like her mummy...

Darling DJ Kirkby,

I damn Winchester who only accept boys from the age of seven!

Actually Lovely Ingenious,

I am so glad you dropped by and wised me up to that particular scam. I have plans for the back garden that include a maze and paecocks - so there shall be no further expansion on the theme park theme...

Perfect Antarctichousehusband!!!

Our au pair has been listening to radio 4 in an effort to improve her English accent, and I am sure that she was listening to that exact show this morning, as she referred to me (cutely) just this afternoon as "psychotic" when clearly she meant psychic... bless!

gaelikaa said...

Sounds more like a case of sibling rivalry than competition fever. My youngest Nathan (4) gets more treats than the elder ones and they currently hate him! I make it up to them by spoiling them rotten when Nathan is out for a drive with his Dad....again!

Snuffleupagus said...

Indeed. You should read my post entitled 'Why the Left is my enemy'. I am afraid you could say something, and no doubt should say something, but it would fall of deaf ears...

dulwichmum said...

Lovely Snuffleupagus,

I have been looking for it and sadly can't find it. What month is it in? Could you post me a link? I genuinely cannot locate it... and I read your blog too.

debio said...

Just back and catching up, DM. And sooo pleased to be back - but more of that elsewhere!
Couldn't agree with you more - little touch of healthy competition is part of growing up and good preparation for what the world holds.