Monthly Archives: April 2011
Well not exactly - which is probably a good thing - as the howls of derision and vociferous abuse from the republican quarter is almost deafening. However, to borrow that much discussed and derided phrase of the week, “calm down dear“ (whatever gender you may happen to be)…
However, if you think I’m going to post some ant-royalist diatribe, you also have me wrong. I’m not going to knock the Royals, I’m as loyal and patriotic as the next man (or woman) indeed, I’ve even sworn my allegiance to HM Queen Elizabeth II on two separate occasions. Having said that and for some time now, I’ve actually felt like I was part of an ever decreasing number who support our Royal Family, until today perhaps?
The Royal Wedding displayed sufficient Pomp and Circumstance to keep even Elgar bouncing around in his grave. As usual, non of it would have been possible without the skills and professionalism of our military, the Metropolitan Police and all the other Emergency services. Who knows, perhaps it even did something to swell a little pride in the chest of our more apathetic and anarchistic British subjects, although I doubt it. There will still be many who hold the republican view but why is that? In my opinion, I would suggest there are probably two main reasons. Issues that underpin the remainder of the perceived or politically contrived ones.
The first is the methodology of our mass media, which often has an opposite effect to the one intended. Since the original announcement of Kate & Wills engagement back in November 2010, our newspapers and TV have gone into operation overkill, jam-packed with excessive levels of hyped up drivel. They will continue for several weeks after the event, dissecting and commenting upon every miniscule detail, to the extent people get sick to death of hearing about the bloody wedding. I have to say, despite being a loyal supporter of the Royal Family, I was fed up to the back teeth long before the happy day. The second, but all too common factor, is the human trait of jealousy. It is always far easier to try to shift blame towards those more fortunate than you, than it is to accept and/or adjust your personal predicament.
Isn’t it strange how the Monarchy is often more popular, and held in far higher regard in other countries like the USA, than it actually is at home? As many of the commentators pointed out during the wedding, Royalty and ceremony is so quintessentially British, it is a trademark or unique selling point. It is also something we should actually be proud of, not embarrassed about. But here’s the rub; for many years now we have been conditioned into believing pride is actually a sin and that we should be embarrassed and/or guilty about traditions and history. We are expected to bow down subservient to all who seek to challenge us, be they right or wrong. Combine all these factors, which in many ways tend to feed on each other, and you have a recipe for a republican revolution.
Kate & William are the future face of our Monarchy and I salute them. I also wish them good health and wedded bliss throughout their future years together. As they appear to be exceedingly popular with the British (and world) public, I think it’s highly likely that some of our buried and hidden pride may once again return to the fore.
I suggest all the wanna be Citizen Smiffy types pack away their Fasces and sickles, or go back to using it for gardening… At least for now!
- Royal Wedding 2011! (enabalista.wordpress.com)
- The Royal Wedding and the Web – A View From the UK (webpronews.com)
- Royal wedding as Global Social Object (broadstuff.com)
- The Royal Wedding (rushisawant.wordpress.com)
- Obligatory Royal Wedding Post (thesuperficial.com)
- Royal Wedding 2011 (aeswggr.wordpress.com)
Today many look at our country and see it as something of a Teenage Wasteland… Students, often fired up by adult activists, bemoan the removal of financial allowances or incentives for study and, they vociferously protest about the increase in university tuition fees. Academic ‘experts’ say that education will be far less available, that the poor will be denied their right to education and that society will ultimately suffer because, the current system is actually failing our future generations. I’m not sure that I agree?
In a rather cute move this week, a 15-year-old boy was given a standing ovation at the National Union of Teachers annual conference, after his speech on the axing of the education maintenance allowance (EMA). Although the speech was well worded with a witty delivery I have to wonder, is Joe Cotton actually indicative of the majority of today’s youth? I would suggest probably not. I also suspect the NUT had ulterior motives when they selected Joe. There was an obvious element of self-preservation relating to their chosen careers i.e. student reduction equals reduction in teaching posts.
The lad’s family (and Calder High School) will no doubt be justifiably proud of his performance however; the NUT were simply grinding an axe with the government. They should however also be mindful of the fact, their profession has benefitted from substantial ring fencing of current funding, unlike many other areas of the public sector.
There are many social issues that impact upon the quality and availability of education, it is far too simplistic to only consider the financial ones. How profound those additional impacts are, is also somewhat dependant upon how much trust we place in figures produced by our government. Add the subsequent media spin and is there any wonder that confusion abounds about the reality of our education system.
- Educational Standards (Primary) - quality of provision is lower in areas of high deprivation; the more deprived the area, the lower the proportion of good and outstanding providers. Just over half (52%) of childminders in the most deprived areas are good or outstanding, compared with 71% in the least deprived areas… (ofsted.gov.uk)
- Educational Standards (Secondary) - in 2009/10, 56% of maintained schools provide their pupils with a good or outstanding education where as, the quality of education was good or outstanding in about two thirds of the non-association independent schools inspected. (ofsted.gov.uk)
- Parenting issues - Teachers say that parents cannot “abandon responsibility” for their children’s behaviour at school… (bbc.co.uk)
- Teenage pregnancies – falling since 2002 and now at their lowest for more than a decade, according to research by the Office for National Statistics… (guardian.co.uk)
- Alcohol abuse - an investigation has revealed as many as 8,227 under-18s are in alcohol rehab. This is almost double the number five years ago… (express.co.uk)
- Drug abuse – you don’t have to accept my observations on this area of growth – Go Talk to FRANK.
- Youth Crime - There is an inextricable link with crime and drug abuse and they often go unpunished (dailymail.co.uk). Combine both these factors with the constant failures in our legal and social care systems and you have a recipe even greater problems.
- Politics – NASUWT teachers’ union recently passed a ”no confidence” motion in government policies for education in England… (bbc.co.uk). Even the academics are divided about the problems involved in educating our kids.
You may well find Generation F – (Winston Smith) to be an interesting read… It reveals the unvarnished truth about how the author spends his working day wrestling with the problems of damaged youngsters, violent thugs and teenage criminals. He is confronted at every turn by irresponsible parents, incompetent police officers and pointless, expensive bureaucracy. His writing may be controversial, angry and edgy but it made him the runaway winner of the 2010 Orwell Prize. I also have a friend who works in the social care of ’problem’ children and he will tell you; yes there are many who are the genuine product of abuse, neglect and/or social poverty however, there are also the odd one who is simply ‘evil’.
In my experience one of the most profound impacts upon a child’s education, and finding their place in society has been the interest of or input to that process, shown by the parent(s), or not as the case may be. That said, I also know of many examples where the child has still gone adrift, through no fault of their parents. We have to accept that much of the enthusiasm (or apathy) displayed by each individual child, is actually down to them. Despite the age-old parental adage of “school days are the best days of your life” you also need to be minded of the other that says, “you can leed a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.
Even the recent Jamie Oliver’s Dream School reality TV experiment, with its “well cool” celebrity in charge, only had limited success in bringing education to those who professed they neither wanted or needed it. It also didn’t pass off without its critics (see guardian.co.uk). At least Jamie was actually prepared to try something new, unlike politicians and academia, to help our disenfranchised youth.
I believe we often fail our younger generations, both as parents and society as a whole. Simply by allowing them far too much freedom of choice and self-expression, long before they have acquired the ability to deal with it in an informed manner. We fail to set boundaries, all be they flexible ones, whereby we explain and point out the consequences of their actions when/if they step over that line. Some will understand, but unfortunately many won’t, especially if they don’t receive the guidance they actually need.
Perhaps the time has arrived whereby we adjust the accepted ethos of mainstream education between 5yrs and 25yrs? Enforce a ‘reality’ break in the educational process between 16yrs and 20-25yrs perhaps and make our children do something productive, other than academic. We now live in a society whereby our children live in virtual worlds much of the time and, their first experience of life on their own two feet doesn’t come until well after leaving university. In addition, given the state of today’s housing market, many children are still living with parents well into their thirty’s. Given these factors, can we realistically expect them to have any cognisance of life issues?
I think the same choices (and even more opportunities) are just as available today as they were to my generation. It is a fact, irrespective of any ‘dumbing down’ argument, that more children then ever before progress through university education. Often our kids simply choose not to take advantage of those opportunities, for varying reasons… With the exception of Joe Cotton of course!
- Boy’s EMA speech gets NUT ovation (bbc.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Ovation for student at NUT conference (bbc.co.uk)
- Boy, 15, makes impassioned defence of EMA at NUT conference (guardian.co.uk)
- EMA upholds the right to education | Joe Cotton (guardian.co.uk)
- Schoolboy given standing ovation from NUT over plea to save grants (independent.co.uk)