I have always wondered about the wisdom of making nursing a degreed profession. It excludes many people with admirable characteristics from a vocation that they may have felt since childhood, and in some ways – and this is no disrespect to nurses at all – it has diminished what was previously though of as a “degree”. Of course, there have been plenty of other things that have contributed to that diminishing, none of them to do with nursing, and all of them to do with status, funding, and the class struggle that obsesses the educational establishment in England. That is all for another post, doubtless. Yesterday’s Telegraph reported somewhat less than fully on a ministerial directive that all nursery workers should have a qualification. So far, so good. We can all imagine in our heads, can’t we, the sort of excellent qualification that is needed – perhaps already having experience of parenthood would be one we might plump for, or having an understanding of early child development, or knowing the value of talk in a child’s life, or having an NVQ in imaginative play, or being able to garden, or make cakes or create things from wood, or know the names of birds, or having a certain stock of patience, or be able to work with small children for up to three hours without resorting to electricity or any electrical gadget – all these would seem to be a reflection of a deeper qualification – the ability to love, nurture and seek the best interests of small children, to grow them.
Nope, none of the above are called for. What is needed, apparently, in a move that shows a distressing failure of the imagination, is a GCSE in English and Maths. There you have it – the answer to the nation’s child nurturing problems. Shakespeare and simultaneous equations; trigonometry and To Kill a Mockingbird (great book, by the way, just not part of a nursery worker’s toolkit).
As I say, a lack of imagination. Nothing wrong with the 2 good GCSEs, except that there is a lot wrong with them, but it does not really come close to the heart of the matter. It is an industrial solution to what is perceived as an industrial problem at the bottom of the educational food chain. No matter that they do not love children, or are just in it as a career option (why?) – as long as they have the right cogs, then the system will run more smoothly. This is what it seems like.
We don’t get much instruction about the raising of young children from the New Testament (and that which we do get we mostly ignore anyway), but Jesus’ words might be a start: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. Start there, and see where we end up.