What's the difference between a "hothouse" and a school that pushes your child to meet their true natural ability?

(200 Posts)
HappyDads Thu 20-Dec-12 01:56:00

On Mumsnet, "hothouse" often seems to be used - by implication - as a slightly derogatory term for "damaging your child" by those not getting into said hothouse school (Westminister, St. Pauls, Eton, SPGS, Tiffins, Habs, Wycombe Abbey etc - whatever floats your boat actually).

Yet we all want our DCs to reach their maximum potential, and be stretched, yet without being damaged. Where is our dividing point?

Seriously I struggle to balance my own thinking with my DD at a school often described as both a "hothouse" and yet also called "balanced".

So what is a "hothouse" and is it more a term of jealousy vs your own DC's ability, or is it something more tangible you can describe?

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 12:28:17

There isn't a single Olympic athlete, or successful ballet dancer, or world famous classical musician who wasn't hothoused. And I agree, having a positive expectation of constant activity and betterment in academic, sporting AND musical achievement all at the same time is also hothousing. Hothouse flowers can, of course, be quite beautiful. As I've already said, whether hothousing is worth it surely depends on the view of the person being hothoused at the end of the day? Unless we are claiming that people are the property of society and if you can create someone who offers up a lot to the rest of society, it doesn't matter how they were created or how they feel about the process of creation?????

bulletpoint Thu 20-Dec-12 12:32:19

Seeker - yes it does matter what the child's day to day life is like; what time they finish school, what is the quantity of homework, what time did they START the homework ? wether they have breaks in between homework, is it the child deciding to carry on working past 9pm or the parents enforcing it ? what is the child's normal bedtime ? You don't know any of this and so i repeat you are NOT in a position to dictate, you are NOT informed on each individual's circumstances, so stop acting like you know it all.

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:36:07

You make a very valid point NightLark what worries me is that sometimes children believe this is what they want /is right for them because they are responding to the expectations of their parents school trainer etc. My friends daughter was "star spotted"at an early age in her chosen sport spent 15 years telling us she loved it and then got up one day and admitted she'd always hated it just could tell her parents/trainer the truth!

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 12:44:08

Most week days my kids have after school activities. Then they come home, have early-ish dinner and then they are off again to their music lessons. So doing homework after 9pm isn't that unusual.

Why do some posters get so judgy pants when it comes to homework?

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 12:49:53

If I put my slack parent hat on I think homework is the work of the devil. but with my slack parent hat off I accept its a necessary evil! But people do get very excited about it or the lack of it or too much time spent on it/how much time others DC's spend on it. Best to let it wash over you.

mumzy Thu 20-Dec-12 13:00:19

Hot housing IMO is pushing DCs way beyond their developmental stages academically+/ or physically. Usually by making dcs practise a particular task endlessly until they achieve the required level to the exclusion of other activities. Dcs may be threatened physically, shamed or emotionally blackmailed to make them perform. IME It is rife in certain cultures sad

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 13:06:15

IME the children of my anti-homework friends are invariably left to vegetate in front of the tv or console monitor. So it's not as if homework gets in the way of some extra curricular activity.

Anyway, every child's abilities, aspirations and circumstances is different. Just because a critic's DC's brain would melt if they had to work past 9pm is no excuse to get all judgy pants.

chicaguapa Thu 20-Dec-12 13:08:42

DH's school does a mixture of both. The high ability kids are all predicted to get A* based on Y6 SATS and Y7 CAT tests. But the low ability kids are being hothoused to get Cs even though they are predicted to get less. DH has to give one-to-one revision classes after school for the kids who are struggling to get Cs. He also has a very distruptive kid in one of his classes that he's not allowed to remove as said child must get a C in his GCSE and cannot miss any learning. hmm

One could argue that this is the measure of a good school and if your not very bright DC came out with all grade Cs, I expect as a parent you'd be quite pleased. It certainly has an excellent reputation in the area, but the teachers are under as much pressure to squeeze the results out of the kids as the kids are! And it's beyond making sure the kids acheive their potential and as much about preserving the school's position on the league table. Some of them must leave with a great deal of resentment - but great results.

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 13:12:11

"IME the children of my anti-homework friends are invariably left to vegetate in front of the tv or console monitor. So it's not as if homework gets in the way of some extra curricular activity.

Anyway, every child's abilities, aspirations and circumstances is different. Just because a critic's DC's brain would melt if they had to work past 9pm is no excuse to get all judgy pants."

grin Mrs Pot, may I introduce you to Miss Kettle?

happygardening Thu 20-Dec-12 13:18:00

Very funny seeker
I may be anti homework but Im even more anti TV/couch potato!!

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 13:18:51

seeker: I'm not the one telling other MNetters that they are bad parents for making their children do homework after 9pm. That would be you.

grin Mrs Pot, may I introduce you to yourself?

rabbitstew Thu 20-Dec-12 13:39:54

How do you know you are pushing someone past their developmental stage, mumzy????? Is any kind of active intervention, including sending your child to school, pushing them beyond their developmental stage? What about children with learning disabilities? Is doing lots of focused work with someone who is dyslexic pushing them beyond their "developmental stage," or helping them cope in the real world????? Is teaching a dyspraxic child how to do get dressed pushing them beyond their developmental stage or helping them towards independence in adult life? Is it better for a child's self esteem if they have serious problems with essential life skills not to bother to teach them at all, because you might have to push them to learn how to do it, or better to teach them so that they can join in more effectively with other children????

seeker Thu 20-Dec-12 13:55:39

TotallyBS- but you are the one telling mumsnetters that if children aren't doing homework they are vegetating in front of a screen!

I think that the "hothousing " thing is usually about parents wants rather than children's wants. I think this because I recognise it in myself on occasion, and do my best to fight against it. It's a fantastic feeling to be able to say that your child won a medal, or got grade 8 or whatever. But it shouldn't be about the parent.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:09:02

seeker: Is English your 2nd language? I was referring to "my anti-homework friends ". Somehow you read this and saw a generalisation confused.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:17:59

"It shouldn't be about the parent"

I can see why you have such a fan club seeker grin

I read your posts about being pissed off because your DS's school had its carol service in the school hall as opposed to somewhere more Christmas-ee. Then there was the school orchestra rant. Then you post some asinine comment about how it's all be about the child.

LaQueen Thu 20-Dec-12 14:39:50

I think if a child is already very clever, then they don't need hot-housing.

I think hot-housing is what's done to children of only average/below average ability trying to force their brains to work at a speed/level which isn't natural/normal to them.

I know a parent, with an average ability child. This child is required to slog through endless work-books from W.H.Smiths, every night. They are expected to do several drafts of their homework. The have to learn 5 new words per day, and write a definition of each word. TV is banned and they are required to read books far above their understanding (they can de-code the words, but have no understanding of the book).

The child doesn't appear to be thriving and enjoying all this. The child is still pretty much placed in the middle of the class, ability wise.

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 14:46:13

"Yet we all want our DCs to reach their maximum potential"

I take issue with that assumption.
Success & satisfaction in life are a lot different from reaching "maximum potential".

Problem is in how that potential is identified & measured, perhaps. I don't think it works well to do it externally; hothousing is externally driven.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:49:23

McQueen: But where would that child be placed if he/she wasn't pushed to this degree?

I agree that it is bad to push a child to the point where they are emotionally stressed. However, in the absence of such stress, such an attitude is better IMO than the parent who gives up on the child with the excuse/acceptance that their child isn't academic.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 14:50:20

Sorry LaQueen. Damned auto correct.

LaQueen Thu 20-Dec-12 14:54:56

It's a tricky one, BS. I think if it reaches the point where the child is enjoying very little, if any of the hot-housing, then you need to reassess.

I'm all for ensuring any child gets a very solid educational grounding - but I think pushing them hard beyond their natural level, resulting in them feeling very stressed, isn't worth it.

wildirishrose Thu 20-Dec-12 14:55:02

I had the most amazing childhood, we went to a state school, we played all holiday, we didn't have tutors yet we managed to pass all our exams and go on to have successful careers. The GCSE/A level syllabus has not changed since my day so I don’t understand the need for hothouses or tutors unless children of today are less intelligent and need to work all the hours God sends just to pass GCSEs.

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 15:21:06

I don't suppose anyone ever reaches their 'maximum potential' in any case. Having a love of learning would be a better aspiration for a lot of dc, then they will push themselves for curiosities sake. I don't agree with LaQueen that the very clever all do this themselves and are never hothoused, but I think a lot of them do.

While virtually everyone probably needs a bit of a nudge from time to time, hothousing is where this is taken too far and as with everything people will all have different opinions as to where 'too far' actually is.

wildirishrose
I fell behind in one of my A level subjects and my dad got me a tutor. The reason I fell behind wasn't lack of ability but because my Mum had just died.

You can't always make generalisations. If a child's education has been disrupted by death, divorce, illness or problems with the school such as bullying or high teacher turnover tutoring may be a very good thing.

Your childhood sounds lovely but not everyone has a lovely childhood.

TotallyBS Thu 20-Dec-12 15:27:05

wildirish: Maybe I missed it but no one here is advocating that children should work all the hours that God sends. So I don't know who you are arguing with.

wordfactory Thu 20-Dec-12 16:58:41

I think gelo sums it up well...we all (whatever our ability) need a little nudge from time to time.

I think nudging is a positively good thing. I'd go so far as to say a necessary thing if we're to keep challenging ourselves in life.

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