Children 'should be allowed to learn from own mistakes'

Boy in a tree Take risks and climb trees, head urges children

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Children should be encouraged to take risks and make their own mistakes while they are still young enough to learn from them, a heads' leader says.

They should have time to play poker, drive go-karts and climb trees, says Christian Heinrich, chairman of the Boarding Schools' Association.

He also warns against hurrying children "into the rest of their lives".

He will tell his association's annual conference to remember there is more to school than classrooms and exams.

Children should be given time to develop life skills and enjoy their childhood as well as study, he will tell boarding school heads meeting in Brighton.

He will say: "Childhood may only be a 16th or 17th Century invention in terms of European literature; it may be peopled by the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny and Cabbage Patch dolls, as well as by childish innocence, good faith and anticipation.

'More childhood'

"But, sadly, even tragically, in much of the rest of the world it seems to be only a partially existent state, or a non-existent one. We are blessed in our schools with the ability to nurture it and to extend it.

"Remember, childhood, once lost, never regained. Let us not hurry children into the rest of their lives.

"I have my placards ready for a march along the seafront, 'Fewer tests, more childhood'."

He will stress that pupils attending boarding schools, such as his own prep school, Cumnor House in West Sussex, are encouraged to learn safely from their mistakes "rather than to repeat them".

Mr Heinrich will say: "So I exhort children at my school, 'Climb trees! Cook your own lunch! Drive a go-kart around the car park (cordoned off!). Even play poker!'

"There's more to school than classrooms and exams. Make mistakes whilst the consequences can be managed and the lessons learned."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    My daughter fell and smacked her nose off a desk in a library yesterday- big nose bleed, traumatised child. Many people would think of suing the council, i think she shouldn't have been running around and should've watched where she was going.Accidents happen and I'm really sure she's learned from this experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Hurrah ! At last, a little bit of old-fashioned common sense. Of course all parent want their children to have fulfilling lives, with lots of activities, interests and achievements, but one of the most likely ways to allow this to happen is to give young people the space to be themselves, to explore, to get things wrong. The job of parent is to minimise any harm rather than eliminate it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I had a fantastic childhood, falling out of trees, playing on building sites, camping in the woods, jumping into rivers, crawling through caves, etc, and yes, I have a few scars to show for it, but I wouldn't swap it for the world. And no, there wasn't a paedophile behind every bush either.
    Parents today are too fearful: let your child run free!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Christian Heinrich, chairman of the Boarding Schools' Association ought to be Education Minister.

    His views certainly represent the interest of the children rather than the Corporate interests of the likes of Michael Gove and his hideous Labour counter-parts both past & present.

    Interfering, Corporate-lead Politicians are blighting children and parents alike with disturbing directives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    That is one of the most sensible pieces of writing on the lives and education of children I have ever seen on this or any other website. Well said that man.


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