Thursday, March 25, 2010

Children are not clients

When in business, the client or customer always comes first. This makes sense as the customer requires a product or service and is paying to receive it. A client is "someone that a professional service is rendered for". To say a parent is a client makes some sense but a child is not a client. We do not render services for a child - they have no money to pay, are unable to contract and do not know what service they want. Children are not our clientele.

It makes even less sense to say a child is a client in a low socioeconomic school. The child is not a willing party to the transaction. They have no choice in choosing the vendor (school) or method to which they are taught as financially they have few options available. Generally, they would rather be somewhere else. Having few goals and little ability to see past the moment, someone else decides what is best for them and puts them on a pathway. This is usually the school itself, sometimes the parent has involvement.

A child in a low socioeconomic school has basic intrinsic motivation (of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm). To use a child-centric model and increase student involvement in the process is to invite low performance as the happy child will focus on "the now" to the detriment of the rest of their lives. The prevalence of the child-centric model creates a struggle to interpret the needs of an immature mind and turn their attention to what they need to be done to interact successfully post school.

At present schooling is becoming more like product development. If we consider a child as a product, a school lives or dies by the products it produces and the reputation of these products in the marketplace. The quality of the product is important. The standard of the original materials gives us an idea of the products that can be produced, the unit cost of production to a reasonable standard and the time required to do so. The scope of the project (syllabus/curriculum) is important as it guides what is possible to do in the timeframe allowed. If we consider a child as a product, individual plans start to make sense. If a child is a product, we have decided what is possible and get on with the job.

In a world of myschool, national curriculum, ratemyschool, performance management, social engineering, back to basics and independent schooling we need to consider what we are doing with children.

It's a chilling thought, as child-as-a-product seems to fly in the face of encouraging a pursuit of excellence.

1 comment:

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