Should we meet the needs of all kids?


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.

About Kris Boulton

Teach First 2011 maths teacher, focussed on curriculum design.
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4 Responses to Should we meet the needs of all kids?

  1. teachwell says:

    I do think this is related to the “rights” culture – it’s a shame that it is Human Rights instead of what it actually is which is Human Rights and Duties. The duty element is something we need to reintroduce. The more the indulging culture goes on the less reason there is for society to pay for children to go to school. If everyone is a consumer insisting on their children’s individual needs are met regardless of other children and the impact on the school then it’s logical that they should take their money and pay for it themselves.

  2. Pingback: When did we start to see children as needy? | …to the real.

  3. suecowley says:

    Maybe seeing children as having needs isn’t about seeing them as being needy, but about a way of looking at other people? I try to do my best to meet the needs of the people I love and work with, rather than to think of my own needs all the time (although I’m often unsuccessful at this). When I ask my own children to think of other people’s needs, I hope that they can do it without expecting gratitude. I’d like them to do it for its intrinsic value (again, this mostly doesn’t work). My ideal though is for them to see meeting people’s needs as a moral imperative rather than as some kind of duty. Just a thought.

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