Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Yoga and Latin? Give Them a Break: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Yoga and Latin? Give Them a Break: Comment

Article excerpt

Every child will find their own aptitudes in the end, so don't force it, says Chloe Combi.

A few Saturday mornings ago, I was standing in line for my first - and last - yoga class. Maybe I'm missing something but it looked and felt like a dance rehearsal for the chorus of the world's first all-zombie musical.

Queuing in front of me was a woman with her daughter, who couldn't have been older than 8. The woman was making the child practise Latin verbs over and over again, which she did in robotic fashion. As a reward, her mum gave her an oatcake.

Now, I'm as ambitious for the next generation as any educator, but I believe that on a Saturday morning an eight-year-old should be in her pyjamas in front of cartoons stuffing her face with Coco Pops. She's been at school all week: she deserves a break, not yoga and Latin. It was all I could do to stop myself tapping the mother on the shoulder and saying, "Seriously, lady, different ancient language, but did you know they put Socrates to death basically for being an overly pushy teacher?"

Considering your child's future in today's world must be terrifying: the shrinking job market, the rising costs of higher education, the armies of child geniuses in China and India apparently poised to take over the world. But this fear should not come at the price of children's happiness or well-being.

As many secondary teachers will attest, the most frequently asked question at any parents' evening is not "Is my child happy?" or "Is my child doing well at what he or she is good at?" but "Is my child bright enough to get into medical school?"

Given that the number of applicants accepted into medical school is vanishingly small, a lot of the time the answer is "probably not". Aspirations for your child to be a doctor are fine if they want to be one and are suited to the role; less so if their ambitions and talents lie in carpentry or ballet dancing. …

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