Pushy Parents and Failing Education System

Interesting BBC article about extra-curricular activities and doing more in education than meeting exam targets:

“Richard Middleton is annoyed at the idea that there is something wrong with being a “pushy parent”.

So is it really true that any parent who values their child’s education and actively contributes to it is, by default, pushy and therefore A Bad Person?

Hands up, that’s me and my wife, we value education.

Pushy Parents

Specifically our son’s education. After all, it’s too late for us, but not too late for him …

My son is seven. What he learns about the world today, what he’s learned up until now, and what he will learn in the next few years will fundamentally shape not just what he knows but what he values, how he behaves, what he enjoys and how he spends and makes the most of his life.

That is a definition of education in the widest sense, encompassing every kind of learning that a child can enjoy.

Intellectual learning, physical learning, musical learning, artistic learning, social learning.

Learning how to learn, to play, to engage, to contribute, to perform, to create.

School search

So as parents my wife and I love helping him to learn, by sharing with him our understanding and enjoyment of everything from starfish to Star Wars, from business to burial mounds.

We pay for specialists in music, gymnastics, swimming, fencing, drama and dance to help him learn to enjoy those activities.

And we worked hard to find a school where a broader education, beyond a simple checklist teach-to-test regime, is the ethos.

Of course, this kind of attitude to education mostly went out of fashion in the 19th Century.

I have a fascinating educational textbook from the middle of the 18th Century which describes the above, nearly word for word (except for the Star Wars bit) as providing the basis for an excellent upbringing.

It starts with a nature ramble and expands (pretty quickly) to the great scientific, mathematical and artistic questions. Fabulous stuff.

Consequently our approach to our son’s education appears not only to spectacularly outdated but deliberately contrarian.


We do not subscribe to the opinion that school is the only education a child needs. How much of what you value now did you learn at school – and how much of it could and should you have learned at school?

Nor do we believe that parents are best ignoring their progeny until they are old enough to leave home.

We want to share our experience and learning with our son, and provide him with the opportunities that we did not have as children.

So, will my son become a new Renaissance man? Will he become a concert pianist or an Olympic athelete?

That decision is utterly out of our hands. It is for him and his natural potential and interests to discover where his future will lie.

All we can do is to provide him with opportunities, support and enthusiasm and the belief that to get the best out of life and himself he needs to get involved.

So the next time someone throws the “pushy parent” label at you, or uses it as a way of forcing you to accept mediocre education, or to try and guilt-trip you into not sending your child to that extra-curricular class because they don’t value it but even so they don’t want your child to have some kind of unfair advantage over theirs, push back.

Hands up. That’s us. We value education.”

You need a lot of spare cash for this type of education, though. It is clear from this that perhaps the middle classes thirst for exams has been quenched; or is it that the other kids are doing just as well so they are looking for a new way of differentiating themselves.

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