Saturday, December 01, 2007

OPEN EYE CAMPAIGN


SAVE CHILDHOOD

Please save our toddlers ~ they need YOU.

For six years The Mother magazine has been campaigning for a return to Slow Childhood. What do I mean by that? Slow Childhood is where children are respected and allowed to meet their developmental milestones according to Nature’s Timetable, rather than some human-devised concept.

Yesterday I was one of signatories to the Open Eye campaign, officially launched in The Times. Spearheaded by no less than The Mother columnist Dr Richard House, it aims to cause a (to quote the good Doctor) “legitimation crisis around this legislation of such magnitude that the government will find it impossible to implement it.”
That’s my boy! Go get ‘em, Richard.

The government MUST be tackled on this piece of legislation as the consequences, once implemented, are absolutely dire to the well-being of our children.

My editorial in issue 26 of The Magazine urges concerned parents and professionals to join our campaign and stop the government’s proposed Early Years Foundation Stage (for 3 and 4 year olds) being implemented in September 2008.
It is, in actual fact, a curriculum for ALL children
from birth to five years of age.
It’s Big Brother gone Psycho.
These compulsory measures which include chubby-handed 3 and 4 year olds barely out of nappies being required to read and write sentences (even if they don’t understand them!) will lead to a whole host of behavioural and educational problems. The anxiety induced in these little children will crush any enthusiasm for learning, if not for life itself.

Our campaign letter states that “An overly formal, academic and/or cognitively based ‘curriculum’, however carefully camouflaged, distorts this learning experience.”
The legislation will cover all children, whether in state, private or voluntary sectors ~ it will include Steiner schools and registered childminders! It will put many experts in child development in the position of having to contradict their own understanding of child development.

Dr Richard House reckons there is a strong case for mounting a legal challenge under the human rights legislation. All I can say is watch the government come undone over this one!

The whole document is authoritarian and prescriptive with 72 early learning goals…ironically, some of them include things that many adults haven’t even achieved! (and are unlikely to achieve.) It's enough to make a girl go grey overnight.

Anyone who knows the first thing about holistic child development will see that the shabbily camouflaged curriculum is seriously flawed, though it would be more accurate to call it legally-enforced child abuse. It completely IGNORES a child’s neurological and psychological needs, treating them as nothing more than information gadgets, mini-computers, sponges to the governments' every diktat.
It’s a bureaucratic controlling
of toddlers’ lives
which is completely counter
to more than twenty solid years of research
into how children learn ~
and what most people instinctively know.

The government’s plan is to insert a POLITICAL KNIFE into the very heart of family life and destroy the close, loving family bonds which all young children need in order to grow, thrive and learn. It makes the assumption that all children are the same. As any parent knows, no two children are the same, not even within the same family.

If the government looked at other countries as an example of what works for children, they would never have come up with such an insane programme. Whatever it is they hope to achieve with our toddlers simply can not happen in the controlled environments they wish to create. They want all children from birth to five years of age to have the SAME day to day experiences. I also suspect it is being driven by a desire to get mothers out of the home and into paid employment. After all, what could a mother possibly teach her toddler?

Beverley Hughes, The Children’s Minister, claims that this plan was widely consulted on (it WASN’T ~ it was a controlled consultation) and that it has the backing of the vast majority of early years specialists. However, she has shown no evidence for this statement. I’d like to see it.
She claims it is a play-based approach to learning and children will be observed to make sure they’re developing ‘normally’, but who decides what is normal? Her claims that early years education has a positive impact on learning is a misrepresentation of information.

Her use of the term play-based is incorrect as the documentation clearly states (repeatedly) that it is of ‘structured’ or ‘adult directed play’. This sort of ‘play’ (for lack of a better word), is a way for adults to control and create the outcomes they perceive the children should be reaching for. This is counter to how children learn and is in complete ignorance of free play.

The Government’s outline is very clear in its goal to ensure that all childhood experiences are the same. Only a parent will fully understand a child’s emotional and developmental needs. This shouldn’t be judged by a ‘national performance target’.

Ed Balls, The Children’s Secretary, needs to be given a copy of the EYFS document so he can see just how hot the water is for the government.

We MUST let the children play. This is absolutely VITAL for their well-being and enjoyment of life. I can promise you, if we don’t, it won’t just be teenage ‘hoodies’ that adults are scared of.

You can download the British Government’s EYFS documentation in full at:
http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/eyfs/site/resource/pdfs.htm

‘EYE’ standing for ‘Early Years Education’ - which, we maintain, needs to be kept open and free from overweening, infantilising government intrusion, however consciously well-intentioned it might be.

I hope to post a website for the campaign on this blog in a few days time..
In the meantime, if you want to find out more,

You can contact OPEN-EYE with your experience and views at:
r.house@roehampton.ac.uk or
richardahouse@hotmail.com

5 comments:

Yenekale said...

I am with you all the way on this one Veronika. I read the report in the Times during the week that was entitled 'Toxic Childhood' and wondered if you would comment, I thought you might. I find the whole thing appalling, goodness knows what mental health problems we are setting up for the future!
The worst of it is that the professionals working with the toddlers will not have the time to interact because they will be too busy ticking boxes to keep their records up to date.My children were always a bit subversive, I remember my youngest at his 3 year check up-he had his thumb in his mouth and refused to speak although he took it out to do the tasks-he was written down as silently cooperative!
Children are all so different, they really can't jump through hoops to suit the government.

Yenekale said...

I thought that people might like a link to the Times article, it is found on www.timesonline.co.uk
if you can't find it put 'stealth and curriculum' into search and it will come up, it was published on 30th Nov.You can add your comments at the end of the article, it already has about 80.
In the Sunday Times there is a very interesting article by Eleanor Mills called He needs, science not maths. It is all about brain chemistry and cortisol which floods the brain when a baby is exposed to stressful situations.The main point is that children who have been appallingly badly parented can't be expected to absorb the kind of education that the government has in mind.You can find it on www.timesonline.co.uk, put 'science not maths' into the search and it should come up. You can also comment.
I think as many people as possible should revolt against these new measures.

Jax said...

Hi Veronika

I've joined the campaign and blogged about this too (hope you don't mind me leaving a link) and I'm getting contradictory feedback from childminders who seem to think that this is OK and isn't going to affect what they are doing. Do you have any idea why that is? I've read the documentation and it scares the life out of me.

Veronika said...

Jax ~ interestingly I've heard this from other quarters too, that childminders aren't bothered by the EYFS...my guess is that they don't actually understand how this could HINDER child development. I can't see how anyone who knows the first thing about what children need in order to develop optimally and naturally, would agree to such a scheme. It's insane. Veronika

Bandy said...

http://www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk/news.htm