A Children’s Year Book

November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

A Year Book was devised for a class of twenty seven pupils* in the final year of their primary school (July 2012). Each child was allotted a page of the Year Book;  favourite films and books and so on were recorded there. The information had been obtained by way of a questionnaire.

Two difficult questions produced such similar responses that it can only be assumed that the children were influenced by the answers other children gave. Few adults, I imagine, would like to be confronted with either question:

How do you think your friends would describe you?

What three words would describe you best?

On average, three words of description were used to answer the first question. Eighteen children noted ‘funny’ as one of them (ten girls and eight boys). Fifteen of those children also used the word funny in question two.

‘kind’ was the next most popular adjective to appear. Seven children (four girls and three boys) put it down for question one, and three (of those children) for question two. Occurring a few times were the adjectives: fun, friendly, helpful, and caring.

A member of the class, who did not put ‘funny’ in either of his answers, was scornful of many who did: most of the children were not funny. And, no doubt, some of those children did not think they were funny either. They were more concerned with having an answer that was acceptable. To be funny must be perceived as a good quality but not offensively so. No children, for example, noted that they were intelligent or good at English or any academic subject.

It was clear from a few children’s idiosyncratic replies that they had no mind for their  classmates’ answers.

Does fear of their peers’ judgements prevent children from being what they might be? Do children feel, as many adults do, that to belong to a community they must conform?

* all pupils, apart from three who were ten-years-old, were eleven.


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