I am one proud mummy, standing here, announcing the big news: my 2-year-old seems to be ready for university. I’m a bit emotional. I remember how emotional my own parents were when it was time for me to leave the house and study in one of the universities we had carefully selected together. I remember the pressure I felt to apply to the right ones. The ones that were right for me. The good ones. The prestigious ones. Knowing that they might not take me. And even if, that it might be hard studying there. Very beneficial but hard.
Sitting in the taxi with little L, I remember how I went to visit some of the universities and business schools with my parents myself. When we took the plane to London, when we were driving to Switzerland. To make sure the schools were up to our expectations. To make sure the environment would be right for me. To make sure the professors were amongst the best. We had carefully read the rankings. We knew which ones were the top universities in my field of study. We had informed ourselves online. We had talked to other people. We had tried to get as much information as possible. Cause it’s not easy to choose the right university. And, today, I feel the same pressure again. Not for me, this time. But for my son.
It’s not only the reputation of the university or even your gut feeling that counts. It’s also the budget. Sending your kids to university can be quite an investment. It requires planning. It requires to make some adjustments to your own way of living. But of course, you do it. Somehow, you try to find a way to do it. Cause education is important. It is maybe THE most important thing for the future of your kids…
Then there’s this whole application process. It scares me. It scared me when I applied for university myself. And it still scares me today. If you want to enter one of the top universities or business schools, you don’t only need to be good. You need to be quick to secure your place. And even then, it’s not guaranteed. Once you’ve applied, your application is assessed. You are assessed. You are assessed to see if you’re worth entering this school or university. Then, the wait. The unbearable wait that never seems to come to an end. You wait for a reply for weeks, for months sometimes, only to be told that your place has already been given to someone else. That you were too late. Or not good enough maybe. Luca is still so young and this whole university application process is kind of nerve-racking. Of course, I don’t want him to get too much involved in this. So, I am the one dealing with things for him.
Pardon? Your little one is applying to university as well, you say? What do you mean, it’s not university? What do you mean, it’s the normal application process for primary school, even for FS1??
Sorry, I was confused. I was confused by this lengthy process, by the pressure that is put to apply early enough to get into the good schools. Sorry, I was confused by the assessments, the fees, the rankings and all. When I went to primary school, there was only one. Yes, sure, I grew up in a small town in the German countryside. You can’t compare really, can you? But still. I didn’t start primary school before the age of 6. Before that, it was all fun and games. Of course, we also learned stuff. We learned quite a lot of things, to be honest. But we mainly played. We listened to stories, we drew, we sang songs and were outside in the countryside. We didn’t have language classes. We didn’t have maths. My parents had never heard of Montessori. Or Waldorf. Or any other educational approach. I just went to nursery (Kindergarten) and then to primary school. And I still seem to have turned out fine. Well, most of the days.
Don’t get me wrong. I do think that what is done at nursery and primary school by the teachers and the whole educational system is quite amazing. I totally encourage early learning. Communication. Languages. Counting. But it’s this whole application process that seems odd to me. It just feels so wrong. Does is really make such a huge difference to which school my toddler will go by the age of 3 that I need to worry about it so much? Isn’t the most important thing at that age a caring and loving environment? Isn’t the most important thing at that age to play, to laugh and to learn what it means to share and to make fiends? To learn what it means to be a good person? Aren’t these the really important things to be taught at that age? Anywhere. At home. At nursery. Or at school.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to be judgmental. I am sure there is a reason for sending children to school this early. I am sure they become independent much earlier that way and that it is good to encourage learning at that age. And if it’s learning through play, if the kids have fun and are happy, than I love it. I am just wondering and questioning this whole idea of being assessed, of competing for the best schools this early. Cause it is a competition, isn’t it? I am wondering if this is what I want little L to learn by the age of 2?