9 year old Kale is on stage being asked questions that would challenge people 3 times his age. All eyes are on him. He gets a large proportion wrong, leaves the stage, takes his seat and says, “it hurts inside,” as he breaks down in tears.
His 11 year old brother, after failing to answer enough challenging questions correctly, tells his Mother, “I feel like I’ve failed you.”
And this is real life as documented on Channel 4’s Child Genius.
At the risk of sounding like my Nan, when I was 9 I was climbing trees. And we’re not going back to far here. That was just the 90s. Or I was playing on a games console with friends, or wandering around parks.
I was having fun.
I went to a private school and performed well in terms of academia. Yes, I had homework and revision. But I never felt pushed. And just as important in my household was that I had time for fun.
Those children, for the most part, didn’t look like they were having too much. In fact, 9 year old Kale eventually decided he did not want to complete the competition. Good for him.
Others, of course, looked like they wanted to be there. Some had entered themselves. Some clearly relished the opportunity.
But shouldn’t parents also push their children to have fun?
One child, David, has the ‘audacity,’ to want to play games sometimes, his Father complains. Games?! A child?! Games?!
I’m all for encouraging children to achieve the best they can, but there has to be balance. And some of the children featured on Child Genius last night have had every last ounce of fun forced from their lives.