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Michael Hickey

Training & Development Manager,

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If raising children is one of the most important things we do in society, shouldn't the subject be directly taught in schools?

Notwithstanding that there are many different approaches which can be taken – and despite the risk of being accused of trying to run a “nanny state” - surely there are some key principles which our young would benefit from being taught at an early age, so that they have the knowledge and skills necessary for when they eventually become parents.

If I wanted to do some paid work in your house on your electrical system, to drive a car, to handle food in a restaurant or even be a nursery school teacher, I would be required to study and pass a test in order to demonstrate an acceptable level of competency in the work to be done. And yet, to breed and play the most important role in the critical formative years of societies next generation, I need no qualifications nor be required to receive any formal teaching on what is involved. Neither am I required to receive guidance in how to cope with the stress of parenthood and how children learn.

Looking at many of the problems, and successes, in society, they so often have factors in the child’s upbringing which play a major part in how children turn out. It is no small coincidence that children of lower income families have a higher propensity to lead a life of crime, or fail to fully engage in the education process which has the potential to help them escape some of the challenges of their youth.

Of course, family life is just one aspect of the many influences on our young. There are many debates about how best to ensure more children have a less disadvantaged start in life and increase their life chances, whether through increased investment in poor communities, or social security payments to the less well off groups in society.

What is missing, in my point of view, is a fully engaged discussion about what capabilities people need to do a great job of raising the next generation, and the legitimate role that state education systems can play.

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    Apr 28 2011: Does anyone actually know how to raise a child?
    I have two.... and I'm not entirely sure I'm doing it 'right' anyway.

    If we could find someone who knows exactly how to raise children, we could ask them to write the curriculum.

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