11th September 2017 was a big day for Tommy, my four-year-old nephew in England: it was the day he started school. Tommy is the middle child of three in his immediate family; he is an active, inquiring little boy, disposed to becoming deeply involved in activities that interest him. He likes playing outside, he loves playing with his toy cars and he enjoys baking cakes. But at 4.5 years old, Tommy’s opportunities to engage in activities that he values have already diminished. Now, he must focus on another agenda: learning to use phonic knowledge to decode and read words, on spelling correctly and on counting and ordering numbers to 20. These are examples of the ‘schoolified’ knowledge that Tommy must acquire in preparation for the English National Curriculum which he will follow from next September when he reaches 5.5 years old. Tommy has entered a space where he is viewed, measured and valued according to what he will become, rather than the human being he is now (Qvortrup, 1994).
Bibliographical noteISSN: 0966-9760 (Print) 1469-8463 (Online)
- Early childhood
- Early childhood education and care
- early years
- school readiness