I read something recently: …having their needs met.
The line related to the engagement of pupils in an activity that their school had paid for, in order to help them. The assumption was that some pupils would find it harder to engage, and so would need to have their needs met.
And I realised, this is ubiquitous language in education.
Not just in schools – it wasn’t the school who wrote this – but amongst those attached to or engaged with the enterprise of education in some way, shape or form.
And I wondered, how did we get here?
Here is a school, choosing to discharge money gathered from the taxpayer to help improve a child’s life, and rather than expecting gratitude, or at the very least some level of grudging acceptance of their responsibility to themselves, and to their society, we automatically default to assuming the child has ‘needs’ that are not being met? Were we always this indulgent of the ungrateful?
By this rhetoric, all children are needy, disempowered. When and how did we stoop into such a tacky quagmire of neediness, in a vacuum of responsibility?
Kennedy’s 1961 speech is considered one of the greatest in history, for that line in particular. It has endured over half a century. Yet Kennedy learnt that lesson himself from his own school headmaster.
Do we have a responsibility to children in school, to our future generation of citizens? Yes, absolutely.
But they have a responsibility to themselves, and to us, too.
It’s time we remembered that.