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Education and learning

That’s not how we did it at school

Do you remember your first day of school? If not, you probably still have the photo your parents took of a tiny little person with matchstick legs poking out of oversized shorts or tunic and holding a large, cardboard suitcase. You have a smile on your face, but your parents will argue that you didn’t stop crying and will may not admit to brushing back a tear themselves.

Look more closely at the photo and you will realise that you probably never had a school hat and wore brown, open toed leather sandals all summer. Your parents will probably tell you that they didn’t have to sign a new permission note every week – your teachers just took you to the park when it was sport and provided first aid if you were hurt. Your school report breaks down to show how you got 73 out of 100 over the year and came 9th out of 25 children.

When it’s time for your own children start school, you feel confident. You’ll probably take the same match-stick leg photo, this time with a legionnaires hat, oversized backpack with school emblem, socks and closed toe leather shoes (despite the January heat). Your child is eager, already familiar with a daily routine and looking forward to seeing friends from their pre-school group.

You have researched all the schools in your area and some a little further away and found the perfect one. You are prepared to sign permission notes and accept all the disclaimer clauses. You think you understand the reporting system – your child’s progress is “satisfactory and within standard bandwidth”.

You know that by the time your child completes seven years of primary school and six years of high school, they will not only be able to read, write, critically examine and mathematically calculate, they may also have travelled all over the town or city and beyond on excursions, attended leadership camps, developed their personal interests in after school programs, uploaded their assessments to a virtual classroom and can probably speak another language.

So, feeling prepared for the years ahead, you take that photo on their first day, knowing they will be happy, safe, taken care of and provided with so many new opportunities.

Even so, you’ll probably quietly brush back a tear.

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