Is being made to feel like a social pariah for driving your kids to school acceptable? No.
Keith Jones, a teacher and parent, argues the case for the car on the school run
The car. The greatest liberator of people since mass production made them affordable at the dawn of the 20th century. Such an integral part of our lives, they’re no longer functional machines to undertake the simple act of travelling in, but are extensions of our personalities and social aspirations.
Yet in this modern, tolerant society we’re part of, one aspect of car utilisation still has the power to enrage the meek and rile the mild: the school run. Is being made to feel like a social pariah for driving your kids to school acceptable? No. In most cases getting the kids to school by car makes perfect sense.
Car ownership enables our hectic lives’ precious minutes to be juggled efficiently
Enjoying the freedom of car ownership enables our hectic lives’ precious minutes to be juggled efficiently. Time is a valuable commodity in most households, particularly when dividing slots of it to devote to family, work and leisure.
Assuming the school walk takes 15 minutes but the drive less than five, in isolation the additional 10 sounds neither here nor there. But multiply that figure by four (there and back, twice a day) and you’ve consumed an hour of your day by walking. Can you really spare that additional 40 minutes per day?
Walking is the healthier option for kids and parents alike but many of us send our children to schools which require negotiating busy commuter thoroughfares or along countryside routes to get to and from. Given a choice between driving my kids to school or having them walking along a two-mile stretch into the sticks, with 60mph traffic just a two-feet-wide strip of grass away, I know which I’d choose. The bus, you say? What bus?
Noticeable social shift on using car on school run
Being a teacher, I regularly see the practicalities of students being brought to school by car. What’s more, car sharing might not have gripped the nation’s consciousness when going to work but for the school run there’s been a noticeable social shift.
And those are just some of the benefits on dry days. Few things are worse than a class of soaking wet kids who walked to school through torrential rain. Sodden blazers and squelching shoes do not make for productive learning.
If life wasn’t so hectic then walking kids to school could not only be healthier but enjoyable too. Unfortunately, the time it takes to do so is a luxury few can afford. The car rules, including on the school run.
Keith Jones has three kids of school age and is the head of sixth form. Follow him on Twitter @keithwrjones .
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