There’s no such thing as free time

What do you mean – can I come back at once and take 10B for extra games?

Just in case you’ve been too glued to the Olympics on TV to notice, this week Mr Camoron seems to have taken over as education secretary. Just for once, Nice Mr Gove is nowhere to be heard. Perhaps he has sensibly taken the opportunity to slip quietly out of the country during the Olympics, probably to some exotic destination to stay with a few wealthy old school chums. Let’s just hope he doesn’t take over as PM when Mr Camoron disappears for a little hard-earned free time later in the Summer.

Unfortunately Mr Camoron seems to be making just as bad a job of making statements about education as old Govey does, and is hardly likely be strengthening his prospective teacher-vote by accusing them of being callous and uncaring enough to refuse to give up their so-called free-time by taking sports activities after school.

Of course, what he’s not mentioned is that it was his party that caused the problem in the first place. Time-slip with us for a moment to 1986. To save face over a pay dispute the conservative government forced the striking teacher unions to agree a statement of the number of hours a year teachers actually work, because as everyone knows, teachers are a lazy bunch who clock off at 3.30pm every day and spend 12 weeks a year sunning themselves on a distant beach.

However, teachers quickly worked out that in fact they already did far more hours work a year than the specified number, and in retaliation for their less-than-hoped-for pay agreement they decided to cut back a bit on all those extras – such as the after school clubs and sports they had previously not thought twice about giving up their so-called free time to run.

So All Change Please! reckons it’s time for Mr Camoron to set an example and give up his forthcoming free-time to run a two week summer sports camp for disaffected 14 to 16 year olds.

Meanwhile Mr Camoron criticises the ‘tick-box, done that’ mentality prevalent in schools, again without mentioning that it was a Conservative Government in 1989 that introduced the National Curriculum in the first case with its endless Attainment Targets and Programmes of Study Checklists. No wonder teachers now don’t have any free-time for teaching sport after lessons have ended – though of course many still somehow manage to do so.

And Mr Camoron has also called for more competitive sports to be played in schools:  “We need a big cultural change – a cultural change in favour of competitive sports”, playing on the popular erroneous belief that schools are beset with an ‘everyone’s a winner’ approach to sport. He also fails to understand how dance can be as physically challenging as the more traditional forms of running, jumping and standing still are.

Now All Change Please! is not suggesting that there should no competition in schools – it is after all a natural survival characteristic of the species, but at the same time let’s remember that not everyone is capable of achieving Gold, and that there’s nothing less motivating or confidence-inspiring than being amongst the ones who come last. Successful species survive through collaboration as well as competition. The culture that really needs to be changed is our lack of our ability to work effectively together – something that must surely have dawned on Mr Camoron as he struggles to hold the current coalition together.

And if you were hoping that prospective PM Boris Johnson might be starting to talk a bit more sense than Camoron, try this:

“I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy – compulsory two hours’ sport every day.”

Yet another politician who narrow-mindedly assumes that what was good for him will be good for everyone, and who clearly knows nothing about the practicalities and issues involved in the actual implementation of what is no more than a populist media-seeking sound-bite.

And finally:

‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious’  Albert Einstein.

So if we want our children to grow up to be as clever as Einstein, perhaps what we should really be doing is instigating compulsory two hours’ passionate curiosity a day?

One comment on “There’s no such thing as free time

  1. Spot on Tristram.

    You’d have thought that someone might have noticed that the most successful country at these Olympic Games is also the one with the greatest number of obese people. Competitive sport was never abandoned in school and the much maligned attempt to engage all children, not the talented few, in sport was unfairly characterised as encouraging an ‘everyone’s a winner’ mentality. (In other contexts I’m sure this could be applauded as ‘positive thinking’!) One might reasonably suggest that an over enthusiastic and exclusive adherence to competitive sport could be seen as encouraging a ‘90% are failures’ mentality.

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