Friday, October 26, 2007

August is the cruelest month - how summer babies suffer in 'birth draw'

August is the cruelest month - how summer babies suffer in 'birth draw' | News crumb | "The research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that children born in August do worse in school tests, are more likely to struggle with reading and writing and then drop out when they reach 16. The study, based on records for every child in the state school system, concludes that August-born children - particularly girls - are penalised by an 'unlucky birth draw' which in extreme cases is leading to children being mistakenly labelled as having special educational needs."

Ah, this explains so much - by that bit of research I wonder why I'm not perched on top of the academic rubbish pile as we speak. It's mildly interesting but I think it sort of misses the point really. Why start them at four or five at all? Why not start children when they're six or seven and the age difference is proportionately less? A five year old has been around for an additional quarter of a four year old's life - that's a huge difference.

I sometimes wonder if research studies like this which examine things at a micro level aren't skirting around the real, meaty issues. Why start all children so young? What's wrong with the educational system that it isn't flexible enough to cope? Is school the right option for all at that age? Are we really doing it the 'right' way at all? I suppose this article caught my eye because I am one of those August-born girls. In fact, I was born right at the end of August so I was the youngest in my year at school. However, I didn't end up on the educational scrapheap. I finished secondary school by the time I was 17. Graduated with my first degree from University by the time I was 20. Am currently finishing off my third and fourth degrees. Never felt it was that big a deal other than when I initially started school and was arbitrarily held back a year at that point because of my age and forced not to read or do maths even though I could because I was officially 'too young'. Good education accommodates individuals' needs. Age is just one factor. A lack of responsive, contextual flexibility is much more important at any point in someone's learning experience. It's important to remember that whatever age of person you're dealing with.

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