Friday, 23 April 2021

Children. And Cervantes.

 Here’s more about children in the modern age:- 

“Education experts and child psychologists have raised the alarm about the creeping “scholarisation of childhood”, as evidence grows that free play both at school and at home is being eroded in favour of academic, sporting and cultural activities.

Experts are concerned that children in the UK are losing unstructured play time during the school day, with shorter lunch breaks filled with supervised educational activities. Once school has finished, homework and extracurricular pursuits are further eating into free time.

They are calling on the government to take advantage of the pause created by the pandemic to think afresh about childhood beyond the narrow lens of academic attainment and bring a halt to the increasing “schoolification” of young lives.

“Huge numbers of children have had a miserable year,” said Tim Gill, author and advocate for children’s play. “I hope one of the things the pandemic might prompt is a step back to allow a holistic look at children’s lives and wellbeing.”

And here’s the Finnish take on starting education:-

“Every morning, Arja Salonen drops her five-year-old son, Onni, off at a daycare centre in Espoo, west of Helsinki, where he will spend the next eight hours doing what Finnish educators believe all children his age should do: playing.

School, and formal learning, does not start in Finland until age seven. Before then, children’s preoccupations are not reading, writing or arithmetic, but, said Salonen, herself a secondary-school teacher in the capital, “learning more important things”.

Those include, she says, how to make friends, communicate, be active, get creative, explore the outdoors and manage risk. “In Finland we feel children must be children, and that means playing – including, as much as possible, outdoors,” she said.

The main goal of kindergarten, which about 75% of three- to five-year-olds attend, according to the Finnish educational expert Pasi Sahlberg, is “not to prepare children for school academically, but to make sure they are happy and responsible individuals”.”

I’m old enough to remember when school was less formal and on fine days like today, certainly at primary level, the teacher would decide to organise a “nature walk”. Without any apparent forward planning or risk assessment, we would be told to get ourselves into pairs and off we would go, in a little crocodile. collecting bits and pieces of interesting stuff to incorporate into indoor lessons later. At secondary school we were more likely to nag whichever teacher we were with for a particular lesson into letting us sit outside for our lesson, Miss Jean Brodie style. There’s little chance of that happening now. 

I am one of the few people I know to have read Don Quijote from cover to cover, and in the original. And really medieval Spanish was not so different from modern Spanish - probably thanks to the invention of the printing press. Anyway, this article tells the curious tale of how an enterprising Chinaman called Lin Shu, back in the 1920s, wrote a version of the Quijote in Chinese. 

To celebrate 405th anniversary of Cervantes’ death a translation of that version into modern Spanish has been published. How odd! Cervantes, by the way, is believed to have died on the 2snd of April, almost the same day as Saint George, and almost on Shakespeare’s birthday!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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