I have never visited a school that excelled academically, which didn’t also excel in extracurricular activities.” Gove 03/02/14
In his recent speech Gove revelled in statistics, sung the praises of government and commended teachers across the country. He also hinted towards his latest ideas for the future, for schools to “provide a more enriching day”. I’m not a Gove supporter, but I aim to find the positive, the beauty, in education, so listened intently to his talk, searching for a nugget. Nearing the end, Gove elaborated on his plans for an “enriching day” and shared how extra-curricular activities “help to build character and instil grit, to give children’s talents an opportunity to grow and to allow them to discover new talents they never knew they had.” At last, something I can agree with Mr. Gove about!
But… where I disagree with him is about where they should sit. They don’t require a longer day, based within the confines of a school, but an enriching day where character-building activities are integral to the curriculum. They should be intra-curricular, essential to the core of educating children to know who they are, who they can become and what impact they can have on society. Such explorations into entrepreneurial activities, community action, performances, sports, leadership and sustainability are just a few of the intra-curricular aspects that can turn a static curriculum into a living one.
Erin Massoni, in his paper on ‘The Positive Effects of Extra Curricular Activities on Students’ 2011, cited that ‘By participating in extracurricular activities students learn lessons in leadership, teamwork, organization, analytical thinking, problem solving, time management, learning to juggle many tasks at once and it allows them to discover their talents.’ Surely this is the whole purpose of education? Aren’t these the skills all children should be learning, hand-in-hand with reading, writing and calculating, that enable them to experience an enriching day, every day?
So today’s good news is that Gove himself realises the importance of “a rich and rounded education beyond (the classroom)” and stated clearly that he is “determined to ensure schools have access to the resources necessary to provide a more enriching day”. So let’s take him at his word and provide every child with an enriching day by bringing the extra-curricular into the heart of the curriculum.