Inspiring creative, happy children (and where the Tories have got it wrong)

Since I lead on Early Years Learning in the EU for the European Parliament, I’m always delighted when I hear that the Working Group on the Quality of Childhood has organised a seminar in Brussels. These events, which take place every few months, provide a fantastic opportunity to look at childhood in a new light or from a different perspective.

Yesterday, renowned British Professor David L. Brierley was invited by the Working Group to give his take on creativity in contemporary education. David Brierley is no ordinary speaker. He has spent over 40 years as a teacher and is passionate about education’s power to inspire creativity. This comes through clearly in his delivery. David is someone who can clearly inspire others.

His view, which I agree with, is that passion is a necessary quality for all those who want to teach children. Each individual, including each child, has what he calls a ‘unique inner nature’. The task of school, and of teachers, is to develop this.

The big problem is that across Europe there is now far too much testing of young people. Endless examinations are demoralising for pupils and they’re demoralising for teachers. David is right when he says it’s the role of the teacher to motivate children and to give artistic shape to ‘a confusing and fragmented world’. This philosophy, he thinks, will have a strong influence on teacher reforms in the future.

During his insightful presentation David came back time and again to ‘happiness’, and what it means. There’ve been lots of debates in the UK recently about what happiness is and how we can create it. David Cameron PM first floated the idea of a ‘happiness index’ in 2005, when he was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, later pledging to invest £2m into the project. Most people, rightly so, argued that his suggestion was woolly and impractical. Happiness is not something that can be measured so easily. As David Brierley put it yesterday, happiness is linked to the ability of a person to put their footprint onto the world. It is unique, personal, and also changeable.

As I continue to work on early years education issues in Europe, I look forward to seeing many more motivated speakers at the Working Group on the Quality of Childhood in the near future.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Inspiring creative, happy children (and where the Tories have got it wrong)

  1. vishal

    Was a nice article till the attack on David Cameron. If you care so much about this subject, don’t be so tribal. There was no need to take that dig at the Tories – Labour hasn’t exactly worked miracles in 13 long years, has it, considering the amount of money we, as tax payers, have paid?

  2. Daniel Oxley

    David Cameron’s happiness initiatives were a silly waste of money. It is none of his business. My happiness is my concern not his but it must be said that I would probably be a little happier if he stopped wasting my money.

    I think that I am right in saying that John Major wasted a similar amount of our money with his on his foolish ‘Cones Hotline’ and between Major and Cameron governmental squandering reached new levels of profligacy.

    Why can’t our politicians just do the job we pay them to do and stop interferring with everything. We don’t need these projects and I don’t want my money squandered on centralising the teaching of infants, it does not need to be co-ordinated from Brussels or anywhere else and the employment of a cliché dispensing ‘expert’ for the EU parliament is unnecessary.

    Having encountered these educational gurus I am rather sceptical about them. They will often go on and on about the importance of the teacher, the privilige of working with young minds, how rewarding it is to teach children, etc. They are so passionate about what a glorious task teaching children is, that it is difficult to see why on earth they packed it in just to go around around enthusing about it.

    ‘It’s the role of the teacher to motivate children’. What a brilliant observation from Prof. Brierley – who on earth thought that it was their job to demotivate them? What will the EU do next? Invite a vet to Brussels so that he can tell that horses usualy have four legs.