WHAT AN INTER(esting) VIEW!

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we had to pass an interview to be allowed to have a child! How would we do? Would we qualify? Would there be a lot less children around? (That in itself raises another interesting idea but we will not bother to go down that road here now).

Actually, it is not such a ridiculous idea as it might seem. In order to get a job, we are likely to face an interview — the more important (in the world’s eyes) the job is, the more severe, stringent, probing and challenging the interview is likely to be.  We will be asked about our training, qualifications, experience, philosophy. And who would not agree that the biggest job in the world, the most privileged job in the world, the most powerful job in the world, is being a parent? Yet there is no interview required! We do not even really need to apply for the job — it is just there! Sometimes we get it without even applying.

So maybe we should hold a post-selection interview here now for those who have been given the job of parents (and a pre-selection interview for any readers considering the possibility of parenthood) and pose a few questions to all of us. Firstly, then, why do we want to have a child? (Granted, many of us may well have asked that very question once we have had our child!) In what ways do we think we are suited to this “job”? What experience and qualifications do we have for this “job”? What specific qualities can we bring to this “job”?

Shall we go on? We might ponder briefly though how such questions make us feel. Do we feel suddenly very ill-equipped for the responsibility? Are we afraid we will not fulfil these tasks well? We do well, if we have answered “Yes” to any of those questions, as we often feel the same way about our actual work jobs but manage to continue. It does not mean that we cannot fulfil our roles.

The point of all this is simply to stir us up to think again about our role as a parent, our view of education and of the school that our child attends.  In blunt terms, we may need to ask this question: what FORM should our role as a parent take?

We do not want CONFORMITY. As a parent we are not to try to develop carbon a copy of ourselves (no offence!), in the same way that schools are not trying to make all pupils the same. The world places much pressure on us to conform to certain ideas or ideals, but that is like caging a bird. We have to allow our children to fly in the best manner that they can, aware that not all birds reach the same heights, eat the same food, settle in the same places. Education must not be about conformity.

Neither do we espouse REFORMATION, which in its literal sense means “forming again” — after all. that will simply lead to the same conclusion. We are not to “reboot” (as we might with our computer) one child to be like a sibling or parent.

Rather we strive for a TRANSFORMATION where we move our understanding across to a new dimension and direction. We need to transform their minds (more their way of thinking than their knowledge), their hearts (which depend on their minds) and their very souls.

In saying all the above, we simply seek also to transform our own way of thinking, about parenting and about schooling. So let us move on and let us not forget that after the interview and the appointment comes the appraisal. We may have passed the initial interview and been ‘appointed’ a parent — so how will we fare in the appraisal? Let us ask similar questions of our parenting that we might be asked in our chosen career. How do we think we are doing as a parent? How do we think we can improve as the parent of a child? What steps will we take to improve as a parent of this child? These are all important questions that we should be asking ourselves.

It may well be an inter(esting) view — an arresting view, even — to have an interview and reflect on what and why we do things as parents. There is no turning back or handing back though; we cannot resign or look for an alternative child. There is an unwritten contract. There may not be a Bachelor’s Degree in parenting (obviously, as bachelors will not become parents); neither is it just Masters or Doctors who can be parents. We just have to get better! How will we do in the inter(esting) view?

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. 
  • email: [email protected]
  • website: www.atschisz

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