Education. It’s a funny old bean.
Do we ever really appreciate what it does, what it brings to our lives and the opportunities it presents? Do we ever really appreciate the teachers; the people who, from such an early age, help guide our path through life? Start us on a journey that we can embrace, can take hold of and reach for the stars with?
Do we ever realise the impact it has, from the tender age of 4? It’s so much bigger than learning. It’s a political tennis ball. A vote winner or loser. It’s an immense topic. As I watched Bea and her best buddie run into pre-school, hands held tight together, it feels very strange that a system filled with so much innocence has such insanely huge implications.
And then there are the actual schools. Is it really right that there is such discrepancy across the schooling spectrum? Shouldn’t we be able to live anywhere and expect the same level, the same standard, the same access? Like buying a Ford car. It doesn’t matter where you buy it but you’re buying the same product, the same performance, the same consistency. Or is that just impossible to expect that when education is based on learning from humans. And guess what? We ain’t the same. So while you can have expectations, standards, paper, processes, goals and testing at the end of the day one teacher will smile, another won’t. One will be the funniest thing since sliced bread, another won’t. One will be spark our learning ignition, another won’t.
I guess it’s no surprise that this is top of my mucky brain thinking at the mo. Yesterday I found out that Monday is the D-Day for parents waiting to find out which school their little one has been allocated to. It’s not that I’m not bothered – far from it. We put in our ‘choices’ after much consideration, probably too much dwelling and debate about which would be the best for bea. Which would help her grow and develop best. Which would be best suited to her rather spirited character.
My ignorance about the date was more to do with the fact that I’ve tried hard to keep it from my mind. An attempt to not overthink, not let it dominate my thoughts, when, at the end of the day, the spreadsheet and formula that is determining Bea’s schooling experience is well out of my control.
In fact I reckon I could make this whole blog about school ‘choices’ (NB: I put choice in single quotation marks because really, we don’t have a choice. We can express our preference but, for lots of reasons, some fair, some possibly less so, we don’t get to really choose our school). But I’m not going to allow myself to get pulled into my own minds conversation about the ‘right’ school, the one we want, the one we may get, the one we get given.
In reality, pretty much all the schools are good. There may be degrees of good but we’re lucky. Every single kid in this country will go to school, will receive some level of education, will have their minds nurtured, developed and inspired. Some will make friends for life. They’ll laugh, play, cry, argue, run and fall. They’ll all have the opportunities to learn laid out in front of them.
It is quite unbelievable to think then that, in this modern world, this very simple access is not the same for every little soul, everywhere.
A couple of months ago I was privileged to listen to a speaker from Girl Rising. It was an ear and eye opening experience. The nutshell? 62 million girls in the world do not have access to any form of education.
These are girls, young girls, with a want, a desire and passion to learn, to develop, to experience and understand the world. But their journey ends there. Ends with the burning desire. It’s just not their reality. How is that? How can it we are not enabling every little brain to have even a basic right to learn how to read and write?
So what is Girl Rising and how is it going to change this horrifying unjust? It’s a global campaign focused on raising awareness and then taking action to right the wrong. Through the power of media they have created some amazing films to tell the stories of nine phenomenal girls in developing countries, who fought in the face of every barrier, every hurdle, and every blockage to receive the right to education. These films are then used to demonstrate the power of education, how this simple access could actually begin to change the world. It’s pretty powerful stuff and not one that I can tell you about – you have to go on your own educational journey to find out more.
If nothing else, watch the film, talk to another parent or grandparent about it. Show it to your children, or nephews or nieces so they can understand how lucky they are when they put on their school uniform and head through those gates. Read more about it here and help them spread the word http://girlrising.com/.
So, for us, come Monday? Whatever our lovely postie brings to our door I will stand strong and remember those 62 million girls. I’ll picture their faces and then I’ll look at Bea. She will go to school, possibly not the one we have ‘chosen’ first, or second, or maybe even third. But she will go. And that’s pretty damn amazing.