I find myself in the grossly uncomfortable position of agreeing with A A Gill on the subject of educating children, which information I impart solely in the interest of full disclosure. I trust neither of us will ever mention this unpleasant coincidence again.
Mr Gill wrote an article in Vanity Fair this month on the idiocy of overstimulating children with ballet and violin lessons and courses on film appreciation and all manner of relentless “improvement.” Force your child to play the violin to a level of moderate proficiency, he suggests, and s/he’ll end up in the orchestra pit of Phantom of the Opera playing the same Andrew Lloyd Weber overture for 37 years in a row. Which really, you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
I ran into a new parent friend in the park the other day, who had to run because his wife was taking their baby (three? four months old?) to something called From Bach to Baby. The mere title caused a wave of existential despair.
Obviously, if you want the best for your child, the thing to do is to make certain that he or she is somewhat tormented, a little bit lonely, a bit of an outcast, without the latest gadgets, with lots of books to read and some reasonably sound-proof headphones.
You can also make your child quite unhappy with a relentless regime of gymnastics, extra languages, music lessons and special maths, but it’s much more expensive and work intensive, and in the end, not nearly as effective as letting him or her sit in a darkened room listening to Nirvana full blast and reading everything ever written about sexy vampires.
The other option is to foster your babies out at three or four weeks to China, to be reclaimed a few years later with perfect pitch, a marvellous work ethic and facility in the most difficult and most useful language in the world.
But they won’t thank you for that, either.