Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

Why school is like a colouring in book

Thanks Aunty Jenny for this book, it’s well loved.

I’ve been playing with my daughter’s colouring books. We have crayons and we colour in together. I didn’t realise just how much it stifles creativity. The lines force you to colour in the shape that someone else has drawn. I’ve been thinking that school is a lot like that. You are forced to colour in what someone else, often a lot of someone elses, consider to be Math in Math. Even though literacy, history, science and a lot of other subjects are in there too, the Math you do in Math is the teacher’s, the curriculum writers’/the syllabus writers’, the school’s idea of Math coloured by history. There’s no space to reinterpret or challenge what counts as Math. Much like my daughter’s colouring in books.


2 Responses to “Why school is like a colouring in book”

  1. Narelle Hetherington

    My little boy Oak would do his numbers backwards, especially 3 and 5.
    I got him a book so he could trace the outline of the numbers, to help him get them around the right way – although my intention was good – it upset him a great deal, because he couldn’t keep his hand steady enough to trace the numbers, exactly on the line : (
    In line with natural parenting – I dropped the writing of numbers and we did simple maths with dots (using dice a lot). This was more fun and a lot less stress for Oak
    A month later he does his numbers around the right way all on his own, without practice or prompting or any stress.

    • Rebecca English

      That’s awesome Narelle. Good on you for trusting your son enough to go with his needs. I think, as John Holt argues, that’s the hardest thing of all for all us natural mums!


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