Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 10.29.04
Quebec City


Tell 'em to take A hike

I see the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development doesn't think much of our day care system.

The OECD just issued a report that chastises Canada for spending too much time providing "baby sitting" instead of early childhood education.

Apparently we just let the little nippers sit around and play instead of giving them a good grounding in mathematics, physics, and literature to ease their way into kindergarten.

Woe is we!

Not only that, but we don't employ enough properly trained personnel.

My mother would laugh.

Here's a woman who quit school after grade eight, never read Doctor Spock and would probably think Montessori played midfield for Inter-Milan.

Yet, strangely enough, she managed to raise four kids who all made it through school with flying colours and nary an axe murderer among them.

When did we decide that letting kids just play around for the first four or five years wasn't enough?

Somewhere along the line those properly trained personnel convinced us that if our kids couldn't play Mozart by the age of three or weren't introduced to euclidian geometry by age four, their lives were ruined.

Oh, the shame of it all!

Picture it. Little Johnny or little Anne-Marie finally arrives at kindergarten.

Not only are they unable to name more than three or four of the major constellations, they have no idea how to figure out the square root of 1600.

They're ostracized, shunned, sent to Coventry by their more-fortunate peers who were lucky enough to have their parents send them to a daycare where the minimum requirement for a staff position was a PhD from Mcgill.

By God, they're ruined for life.

Little did my mother know that giving us a few toys to share with the other neighbourhood urchins and plenty of room to develop our social skills was something akin to child abuse.

As I remember it, my childhood involved a lot of dirt, fights with my brothers, the use of my imagination, and very little in the way of structured activity.

Under the OECD guidlines I've probably got grounds for a lawsuit.

Interestingly enough, we come off pretty badly with our European cousins when it comes to preparing our children for school.

Of course, these are the same people who in France allow kids to drink a glass of watered-down wine.

And in Germany, well, lets just say I can't remember Canadian kids of my generation starting any world wars.

Before I ever went off to school my parents managed to introduce me to books.

Okay, they were of the "See spot run" variety and not "Moby Dick." Nevertheless I developed a taste for reading that has lasted all my life.

And it didn't take a specialist in early childhood development.

Of course, in this day and age we need day care. No question about it.

But I'd rather sees someone who has patience, loves kids, and puts a high premium on imagination in charge than someone who learned all they know about children in a seminar room.

Childhood is short. School comes soon enough. And Canadians should tell the Organization for Economic Co-operation to take a hike.

Preferably to the nearest sand box.