Anyone who is watching Channel 4's 'experiment', their documentary series about the social development of children, will not fail to be enchanted by the children. The headline grabbers from last evening's programme were, apparently, Jaja and George. Their particular behaviours described; "Jaja is disappointed when a dance competition does not go her way and George starts the week on the sidelines", as the most compelling examples of what the Guardian says, "reveals small kids to be just as complex and neurotic as grownups".
Anyone reading this post, might have reflected on how it could be, should be, so different!
Far from revealing the children as mini-me(s) in the making, the programme exposes how our systems reproduce those complexities and neuroses through the very competition that the journalists, the teachers, and the psychologists in the programme condone. The casual suggestion made in the preview of the programme about how the "two psychologists critique the children in a way that feels harsh, until you remember every parent at home is doing the same or worse", is startling - at best a libel; at worst an indictment.
What we saw were the damaging teaching and learning methodologies imposed on our schools and our teachers, about what is appropriate for the healthy development of their bodies, their minds and their ultimate well-being. Jaja's joy for expressive movement, for dance, was dented by the rather crass competition. Whilst George resisted the temptations of 'team-work' against the best efforts of the adults, a premature intrusion on his individuality.
Of course, Jaja will need to learn resilience, how to bounce back in the face of disappointment and George will benefit from being part of a community of peers. But these truths are better discovered by the rhythms of life, supported in environments that watch out for the child's readiness for those lessons.