In the above video from Tanya Byron’s keynote speech at the 2011 FOSI conference, she explains her response to the government when faced with this question. She speaks with such passion and conviction and I found myself nodding with excitement all the way through.
I think there are 2 key points to this argument. Firstly that education needs to be made more relevant to children’s everyday experience. Children live in a multimedia world and are excited by it. Bringing this multimedia world into their education will make learning more exciting and when learning is exciting we achieve better results.
My 7 year old often says school is boring and she hates writing. She is one of the brightest children in her class, if she finds it boring imagine how the least able children feel. Which brings me to the second point. Education in this country is about whether or not you are academic, if you are academic you are clever , otherwise you are not and pushed down a seemingly less important vocational route. This notion of what ‘clever’ is forms from the very beginning of school and unfortunately it is often boys who are not academic and would prefer to do something more active. Unsurprisingly the gap between boys and girls widens.
When children lack motivation they misbehave and eventually give up on school altogether ( as happened with my younger brother). Technology has so much promise as a way of engaging children and raising standards. It is relevant to their lives and gives them skills for their future. My own daughter’s teacher recognised that children of this generation will be unlikely to use pen and paper as a main source of writing in the future. Yet there is still fear about doing something different and worries that they have insufficient equipment .
This is why we need inspirational leaders, with ideas, energy and enthusiasm to show teachers what can be done. If enough influential people share this message, perhaps one day we will be heard.
The good people at Netmums have been kind enough to let me and my 7 year old daughter review a Lego game. I say ‘kind’ because the original request went out to boys. Strange, I thought, I’ve always thought of Lego as a unisex toy. Having heard good things about Lego games, I thought it was worth asking if they would like a girl’s perspective and hey presto our wish was granted. My daughter has been eagerly awaiting the postman for weeks, especially as I promised she could invite 2 of her friends to test it with her.
The game that finally arrived was Ramses Return. It is described as a memory game suitable for children aged 7+. So far so good, Egypt is a fairly unisex topic and memory games are generally popular in our household.
Before playing the game you need to build the board and the die which adds another dimension to the toy. We had fun building it together and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. It comes with a funny little tool (the red thing in the picture) to lift the tiles from the die if you want to change it around . This is (as are many of the other pieces) very small. In our house this means that tidy away time would need to be supervised to ensure that no pieces went missing or were eaten by toddlers, babies or dogs.
The rules are easy to follow. The object of the game is to move around the board collecting crystals and treasure, some of which are hidden under domes. If the die lands on a colour, you have to check the domes to see if you can find a matching crystal, the domes then can be placed back on the board in any position, so you need to remember where each colour is. If the mummy passes through your space you lose a piece of treasure and go back to the start. The winner is the first to collect 3 different pieces of treasure. The treasure and crystals fit neatly onto the heads of the playing people, my daughter loved balancing the funny hats on their heads.
We have played the game twice so far, once just the 2 of us and again with 3 children plus my 2 year old and myself playing together. When it was just the 2 of us it took about 10 minutes to play. I liked this because often board games are quite long and it is difficult to find long enough stretches of time when the babies are not around for us to play. With 4 players it took considerably longer, one of the boys became bored before it finished and then they all gave up. The boy who gave up playing was younger than the recommended age so this may have been a factor, also because the board is so small with 4 players it is quite difficult to sit around it. We passed it from player to player instead.
The thing that I loved most about the game is that it promotes creativity by encouraging you to change the rules. We changed a number of rules such as when a player landed on your space you had to give them a crystal and if you choose an empty dome you had to go back 2 spaces. It was lovely to see the children negotiating the rule changes.
So was the game a hit with girls? I think that is a resounding yes.