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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Investing, Shareholders and Dividends

We often think of the word `investing’ when we think of our children’s future. To some of us if there is an `investment’ we also think of shareholders and then dividends. If you put a lot of time, money and effort into your child’s education you expect a return.

We tell our children that the only way to get on in life to is have an education. We explain to them, very carefully, that passing the 11+ and then GCSE and `A’ levels is the way forward. We use words like: “You need to make the most of this opportunity.” If the words `Eleven Plus’ are mentioned, in the same breath as `opportunity’ we are often thinking about some form of profession.

I chatted to a family recently. The Dad said: “I am only a plumber.” He went on to explain that he had left school with very few qualifications and had had to study at night school. He wanted something different for his child. But what he did have was a lovely family, a nice car and a good address.

Do you think that it was just because he had had a restricted education he wanted something more for his children? I had the feeling that he did not want to be fobbed off with `second best’ for his child. He spoke well about the school his child attended. He was more than happy with the teacher and remarked that the school had a good head. But most important of all, this Dad had a respect for education.

As parents we are allowed to have aspirations. We thrive on dreams for our children. We also know how to be realistic about what can be achieved.

I met another father a few weeks ago and he wanted his extremely bright child to have the opportunity of doing well in the eleven plus examination – and in entrance tests for a local private school. He thought that his child would do just as well at both schools – but that the independent school would open more doors in the future.

So this father wanted more than good GCSE and `A’ Level passes. He was looking for different outcomes from the education system.

Both sets of parents were investing in the way they thought best for their child. Both parents were shareholders in their children’s education. And each father wanted a dividend from the time, money and effort.

This places a heavy burden of expectation on us as teachers and educators. When we work with a child for an hour a week we are not only trying to give the child the tools to pass an examination, we are also trying to fulfil the aspirations of the parents.

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