Monday, 6 July 2015

Early Learning.

Since there’s always somebody doing work at the primary school opposite my house, I occasionally take a sneak peek at the latest additions out of school hours. Today I discovered that in addition to the old tarmac yard and the field where most of the play equipment is set up, they’ve created a new corner consisting of:

Paths laid in limestone pea gravel and slate chips, neither of which is cheap.

A child sized summer house.

Decking areas like little stages with seats provided by sections of tree trunk.

A wooden, covered seating area in hardwood modern style.

A huge tractor tyre turned on its side, filled with earth and planted with flowers.

A wooden water trough served by an antique well pump which has been engineered to work.

… and several other features which I don’t remember. And all areas are bounded by rustic wooden fencing about 3½ft high.

The inner city primary school which I used to visit while working for the charity had an area of tarmac for the kids to run and play games of their own making, and it was bounded by an 8ft wire fence. The contrast between poor inner city areas and the mostly wealthy rural ones couldn’t be more marked.

So do I begrudge the local kids their playground delights? No, of course I don’t. I’m perfectly happy that they have such a splendidly imaginative learning environment. After all, it isn’t the kids’ fault that their parents are wealthy and dyed blue through and through. But I do have to ask the question:

‘Which environment is more suited to preparing them for an often difficult, and almost universally unjust, world?’

Or maybe I should see it as being part of the mechanism by which children of wealthier parents are conditioned to live in a different form of reality than those in the inner cities. I think that’s probably the best way to go. It explains a lot.

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