Parents evening had me sitting down on a small chair designed for a child as my knees ached while waiting anxiously outside the classroom like a naughty child ready to be called into the headmaster's office. Next to me was a diddy table which on top had laid out on it, neat rows of different coloured books representing a different subject, and each with the child’s name on it. I looked through my son’s textbooks and the wife and I both made compliments about various aspects of his work. Other parents from different classes, and year groups, passed us in the hallway after coming out from their encounter with their child’s teachers. Some parents came passed smiling, one or two had frowns on their faces while one lone parent came out cussing under their breath. The closer they got to the wife and I the louder their objections became. I put my head down pretending I was checking out my son’s maths work, which I had already done, as I got the distinct feeling this parent was heading towards me seeking some type of moral support.
“What a ruddy cheek!” I looked up, but said nothing. “How dare the teachers try to push the blame onto my child for being bottom of the class?” I tried to give a comforting smile, but really just wanted to keep out of their own personal argument. “The teachers said that maybe if my child spent less time playing the X-Box and spent more time trying to finish homework plus spent less time disrupting the class, and put a bit more effect in while here, they were confident better progress could be made!” I silently shrugged my shoulders, smiled again and then luckily we were called in for our turn, so leaving the disgruntled parent to themselves.
We consider our children’s school to be excellent, and both our children have done exceedingly well in it, which was borne out by the very good review our son’s teachers gave us of his progress. It's not just the academic side of the teaching, but the extra's those hard-working teachers within the school do in their spare time. Music is something the school tries it's best to excel at, and has a twenty strong ukulele group plus a thirty piece orchestra with a forty-strong choir. I doubt there are many primary schools in the U.K that can boast of that! My daughter has become an excellent flute player and my son is learning the trumpet. They have both achieved something I have always wished to be able to do, but have never done, and that is to have the ability to read music. I have always thought that although it's not one of life's essentials, just like you can go through life without being able to swim, or have a driving licence; but, and just like Mary always says in my Daniel Jones series of books, "there's always a but in life", but I believe being able to play a musical instrument adds to the quality of life, just like going for a swim, or having the freedom to drive where you like, does the same.
We never had to encourage the children to take up music, in fact we knew nothing about it until the school informed us on both occasions that they had shown an interest, after taking some taster sessions, and with the right support could take it further. So we took the teachers advise and as they say, the rest is history.
Maybe if some parents, like their children, spent less time talking and a little bit more time listening, then maybe they would learn a thing or two as well?