What matters to parents

What matters to parents

A new study on attitudes to raising children suggests that present-day parents in the UK place a high value on their children displaying good manners and being tolerant and respectful, just like parents did a generation ago. However, it also indicates that UK parents nowadays are far more concerned that their children are creative and imaginative than parents were thirty years ago, and far less bothered about obedience. These study findings chime with the fundamentals of Life-Based Learning, which is all about maximising opportunities, especially with younger children, to go wherever the learning takes us, exploring the world in creative and imaginative ways.

The research was carried out by the Policy Institute at King’s College London as part of the World Values Survey, one of the largest and most widely used academic social surveys in the world. The study covers 24 countries and enables researchers to compare how attitudes to parenting vary internationally as well as the extent to which attitudes have changed over time.

The study suggests that the four traits and qualities UK parents most value nowadays for their children are:

  • good manners
  • tolerance and respect
  • independence
  • hard work

The change in attitudes to imagination is striking. The share of the public that regards imagination as particularly important in children has increased from 18% to 37% since 1990. In contrast, the share of the public that places a premium on obedience has dropped from 50% to just 11% in the same time period.

The qualities we’d like to see instilled in our children are important signals of what we value as a society – and the very clear message from these long-term trends is the increased importance of imagination and decline in how much we prize straightforward obedience.

But this doesn’t mean we want a society of self-centred children – good manners are still the quality we want to see most, there has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of hard work, and we’re also among the very most likely to value unselfishness. Instead, this is likely to reflect a more general shift towards valuing self-expression, while still wanting our children to be positive and productive contributors to society.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London

Life-Based Learning promotes imagination and creativity

A key premise of LBL is the need to free ourselves from an obsession with subject-based learning, which throws up barriers between one subject and the next, limiting our ability to think flexibly and our freedom to go wherever the learning takes us, exploring the world in creative and imaginative ways. Much of importance is inevitably lost in the interstices between one subject and the next: if it isn’t in a programme of study or an exam specification, it might not even get covered – and certainly not in any detail.

Life-Based Learning promotes a more integrated approach to learning that moves away from the rigid compartmentalisation of learning into individual subjects. Our blog A focus on teaching enquiry skills will help with lifelong learning, for example, champions a spirit of curiosity and open-mindedness.

We have talked about the need to make reading and writing fun, to see literacy as a way of enabling each child to express themselves imaginatively and of igniting their creative spark.

We have also highlighted The Joy of Not Knowing (JONK), an approach to learning developed by Marcelo Staricoff. “Engaging children’s natural sense of curiosity and desire to find things out, allowing them to try out possible solutions and search for answers in classrooms that are ‘communities of enquiry’, offers an intriguing and exciting approach to accelerating children’s learning.”

Image at the head of this article by Image by Vincent Van from Pixabay.

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