Education should be about lighting fires, not filling buckets | Letters


Why this panic about children catching up with lost learning (Letters, 3 June)? I have worked as a private tutor for over 23 years and, yes, I can see the gaps in children’s knowledge since the pandemic. But I can also see that children will benefit most from more play, exploration and creativity, whether that be from school trips, school plays, music, drama and art, rather than trying to squeeze extra hours of maths and formal grammar into their tired brains. Children can only learn properly when they’re happy.

If we can cater for their emotional needs, they will catch up in their own time. Life and learning go way beyond the school curriculum. Education shouldn’t be about filling buckets, it’s about lighting fires. Let’s try to be more positive and inventive about this.
Mary Gildea
Charlton, London

Re Simon Jenkins’ article (Ministers had a chance to improve young people’s lives – and flunked it yet again, 3 June), I am 82 years old and teach and attend a variety of U3A courses. My 16-year-old granddaughter asked me: “Granny, why do people of your age study when they don’t have to?” As a former teacher and headteacher, I found this a terrible indictment of our exam-bound education system.


The same granddaughter has just completed her year 11 assessments that will replace normal GCSEs this year, and at the end of May her school year was over. This means that after more than a year of limited school attendance due to Covid, she will have three months out of school until she starts A-level courses in the autumn. And I believe that this is true for year 11 students in all local – perhaps even national – schools.

Surely this would be an opportunity for schools to offer these young people a catch-up on exam-free education, and a break from social media, so that they might come to appreciate education in its wider and richer sense. Then my granddaughter might learn the answer to her own question.
Jane Ichajapanich

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