Letter: Term-time holidays

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Modern education has been described as "the mouse race that trains our children for the rat race".

Heaven forbid that those young, inquiring minds should ever be allowed to focus on anything but the grim tasks of "curriculum tests". Unthinkable that these lively little folk should be let loose, during term-time to do such useless things as visiting cathedrals, exploring rock pools, listening to other languages and music, walking on nature trails, seeing how children in other countries live, climbing mountains, learning to swim or snorkel, calculating in foreign currencies or experiencing at first hand those other cultures from which their parents may have sprung ("Heads seek term- time holiday ban", 30 December). Perhaps the National Association of Head Teachers would prefer children to be manacled to their desks so that parents would be unable to spirit them away during term-time for these dreadful, unscheduled holidays.

I shall always remember a conversation I had with one of my daughters, a few days after we returned from a three-month tour of Europe (in term time). "The kids in my class have just finished a project on ancient Greece," said this little girl who, a few weeks earlier, had been staring awestruck at the Parthenon and running races with her sister among the ruins of Olympia. "And can you believe, they thought it was boring. I felt so sorry for them."

Teachers had been supportive, asking only that the girls keep a diary of their journey and bring it back to share with the class. But that was 1977. I guess the mouse race has become grimmer since then. Poor little mice.

MARIAN McCAIN

Ivybridge, Devon

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