Should Schools Let Our Kids Be Kids?

The education system in Europe is going through a bit of a transition. While public educators continue to work on new ways to standardize education, some parents groups are advocating that we should “Let Our Kids be Kids.” As a matter of fact, this UK campaign encourages parents to keep their kids at home, arguing that children are “over-tested, over-worked, and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning.”

More than 45,000 parents signed a new petition to protest over SAT exams aimed to test children at the ages of 6 and 11. Furthermore, these parents pulled their children from school on Tuesday in protest.

It is a bold statement, these parents are trying to make, but will it be effective? Indeed, children should be afforded more opportunity to play and learn from experience. Children are creative and ingenious but, more importantly, they also have freedom from social restraint: they do not allow themselves to be limited by the many restrictions we find as adults.

This is why children love blocks and coloring. While they are learning physical motor skills, it also allows them to create in three dimensions and to experiment with shapes and colors and sizes to make what they vision come to life.

The parents attending this protest, then, argue that 6-year-old children have no business taking a standardized test (and probably not 11-year-old children as well). These children should be playing and learning by using their senses to discover, not using their brains—which aren’t even fully formed yet—to analyze.

And while this is a problem directly facing children in the United Kingdom it is not too different from what children and parents are finding in the United States as well. Schools in America also continue to face reform in an attempt to standardize education and prepare children to work (and not necessarily to think).

One of the things education is supposed to teach is a lifelong love of learning. It is a side-effect of the discovery process, of achieving knowledge and understanding through trial-and-error. These parents may be arguing, then, that by structuring education into a timeline of standardized tests, it removes the fun of learning and puts unnecessary pressure on children who do not even understand why the pressure is there in the first place.