Taking Stock - 26 September 2011

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How time flies... I know there should be a line on there about having fun but, fulfilling as it may be, parenthood is jolly hard work.

It only seems like yesterday the Munchkin was enjoying her first birthday, oblivious to the significance of the date or the opportunity to multiply her worldly goods.

Sadly that innocence is now very much a thing of the past – evidence provided by the fact every bright and brash toy advert is accompanied by a plea for the product to be included on her present list.

As if The Munchkin’s fully fledged membership of our consumer society wasn’t sign enough she’s growing up, it’s started to dawn on us she’ll be starting school this time next year.

That, of course, means making a choice – arguably one of the biggest a grown-up will ever be faced with.

Sure, you have to buy a house, or a car, but a school - well, that’s a decision which can literally change someone’s life.

Considering myself a fully paid up member of the middle classes I have, of course, pored through Ofsted reports and prospectus leaflets – all of which promise a supportive and caring ‘learning environment’ – whatever one of those is.

I’ve even taken the bold step of stepping out to an open evening or two, where young pupils, eager to impress, have shown me such highlights as the boys toilets and the caretaker’s cupboard. Thankfully, as yet I haven’t been shown to the headmaster’s office, where I remember spending much of my own school days.

Haven’t classrooms changed. There’s no chalk for a start. It’s all fancy interactive whiteboards these days and computers.

A far cry from what I recall. Our school did have a computer, but it was the size of a small bus and spent much of the time hidden away in a cupboard – presumably as punishment for eating floppy discs, which it did on a regular basis.

The classrooms I remember were far more about curly Cs and kicking Ks – oh, and S for sit down which, I’ll admit, wasn’t one of my strong points. So much so that one teacher resorted to using a length of skipping rope to secure me in place.

There’s not of that these days – little ones are encouraged to learn through play, rather than the use of a ruler called Jasper or any form of defenestration.

I’ve always thought it important to ask questions, but it’s tough to know what you should be quizzing teachers on. So far my probing has very much been the educational equivalent of kicking the tyres on a car and checking it has a steering wheel.

For the first time ever in a classroom, I’ve been left with absolutely nothing to say.

Anyone who had the misfortune of teaching me would never believe that in a month of Sundays.