After a summer of celebrations and sporting success it is no surprise that politicians have jumped on the bandwagon with their own interpretations on what makes a champion sportsman.

Immediately after the Olympics and Paralympics I heard government ministers saying that all Primary schools should have dedicated sports teachers. I even heard some saying that all teachers should do a sports module!

At the same time as the Olympics the Proms were taking place and were also very popular with the public so should all Primary schools have dedicated music teachers, art teachers, cookery teachers, IT teachers etc. etc. Is there any room in all this for teaching the three Rs?

We did not have specialised teachers until we went to secondary school and had mastered the basic subjects.

When I started school in 1944 at the age of 5 we started straight in on the three Rs from day one….no “learning through play” in those days. All my teachers were female as so many of their male counterparts had joined the armed forces.  The classes were 40-50 children , boys and girls, all abilities all levels of society, just one teacher and no assistants. Our class teacher taught us everything, including games PT and dancing, which were played mostly in the school yard unless the weather was really inclement and we moved into the hall. Equipment was very basic, but we did get plenty of exercise. I thought the government move to more sport in school was to get the children fit by giving them more exercise not to train future Olympians and felt exasperated when the PM decried dancing as exercise. I would be interested to hear what professional dancers would say to that!

Of course if a child has a talent for sport it should be encouraged and nurtured with all the facilities and trainers possible, just as all talents should be appreciated and nurtured. I think that most people have a talent and the good teachers will recognise these and, if they cannot expand these themselves, will know how to put the child in touch with those who can.

A rounded society needs all the talents , whether these are talents which will bring national fame or the more mundane talents of good citizenship, caring for others, being good parents, vocational subjects or academia. Each has a part to play in a civilised society.

Even had I had a team of sports scentists, trainers and equipment  and all the determination in the world,I don’t think they could have turned me into a champion. 🙂

We have all said, or heard it said, ” A is a born teacher, doctor, nurse, mother” etc. That it their talent which they are using to the best of their ability. It would be a very unbalanced world if we all had the determination and single mindedness of those who do reach the pinnacles. Many of the athletes when speaking of their attainments thanked their families and teams who had made it possible for them to achieve their dreams, all the unsung heroes who had used their talents, the teacher who had spotted their talent, families  who supported them and the teams of specialists behind them.

We started learning the three Rs from day one and once we had learned to read we had spelling bees, times tables, simple arithmetic tests etc regularly. We did not use ink until we were 7-8years old and started learning”cursive writing”. We had a weekly newspaper called the “Childrens’ Weekly” They held handwriting competitions which we entered. (My family would be amazed to hear that I got a “highly commended” 🙂

The only science I remember were the nature walks on the Forest and the nature table where we watched tadpoles turn into frogs and made a wormery in a glass sweet bottle.

History and geography came from the reading lessons and RE from the daily service and Sunday school.

We had singing lessons and a very crude orchestra with simple basic instruments. We also had knitting and sewing lessons (both boys and girls) where we learned basic stitches, how to darn, patch and sew on buttons. These were extra lessons, but the main object seemed to teach us to read, write grammatically and do arithmetic (which included tables up to 12 times 12)

Many of the children in my school went to lessons after school, music, dancing, elocution and sports. These were arranged and paid for by the parents.

When we went to secondary school there were clubs for special interests in school and in the many youth organisations in the community, so the opportunities were there, but not many of us got past amateur status:)