A word in your ear - March 8, 2012

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WHEN that school bell went at the end of the day, I was on my bike and off home like the clappers.

It was a one-pedalled racer after a rather unfortunate crash frayed the thread in the crankshaft and allowed only a crude metal bar to be inserted in its place.

It was murder on the feet, but was more pleasurable than another minute in class.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t enjoy life in high school, save for learning that if you dipped a piece of bread in starch it went black, Jethro Tull invented the seed drill, and if you fanned your hand in front of your face it created a strobe effect.

Great stuff for a pub quiz, not so good if your folks were hoping you’d make it to university.

So with this in mind it should come as no surprise I did not exactly try too hard on my homework.

Snooker in my folks’ garage, football on the park and then, as I hit my teens, disappearing to my darkened bedroom to listen to the doomed electro strains of Depressed Mode contemplating life – you know the usual teenage Rebel Without A Cause (or a point) kind of stuff.

All right we were given homework, but nothing like the kids today.

I know the argument is exams are getting easier, and “it’s all coursework”, but the level of homework is amazing – and not just with high school kids.

My daughter has been bringing work home to do at the weekend since she was five.

This isn’t “what did you do on your holidays” or “bring in a piece of tat in for Show and Tell” either, these are set modules ranging from science, literacy to art, the kind of work I had kind of hoped she was doing IN school.

Now I love to get involved in my daughter and her brother’s schooling, reading stories answering their questions such as “daddy, what did the two robbers crucified next to Jesus actually steal”? No idea.

But seriously, the amount of work given out to kids these days is inhibiting.

Government guidelines recommend an hour a week for five to seven-year-olds, rising to 2.5 hours per night for pupils aged between 14 and 16.

Growing up is about many things. Education is, of course, a major part of that, but so is having fun.

I was a right cheeky kid and got into more scrapes than I care to admit even now – well, my dad is one of the three people who still read this column!

But the social side of life, making friends, having adventures and a laugh is surely just as important as learning about Hooke’s Law and an isosceles triangle (nope, I still have no idea what one is).

Thankfully, the Government has listened to parents annoyed by how much of their children’s spare time is taken up by schoolwork and scrapped guidelines for home study, now leaving it up to a headteacher’s discretion.

I for one am delighted and will get my adventure-hungry kids a pair of one-pedalled bikes and a snooker table to celebrate.