Today was St Georges Day, did you notice? Assuming you did, and you could hardly miss the fact given the media coverage, you probably weren’t that bothered any way, were you?
During our more recent PC years, there has been a mass of divided opinion about the rights and wrongs of celebration on this day. However, many people also continue to wonder why; is it right that St Georges Day should be seen as a social or political taboo?
Paul Vale, writing in today’s Huffington Post, was one of the latest in a long line of journalists to ask; Why Is England’s National Day Not Celebrated?
I think that Vale’s article made a refreshing change in that, it genuinely attempted to explore most (if not all) the reasons behind the answer(s) to his question. For once here was a piece that actually avoided the usually inept and stereotypical reasoning used to obtain an answer.
He avoided any attempt to lay blame at the door of a particular group, for our apparent lack of national pride. Thankfully that methodology was avoided for once. You see there is no singular reason for this lack of pride, if indeed we (the English) are allegedly wanting in that department. It’s probably down to apathy more than anything else. The final paragraph and quotation from Vale’s piece (probably) sums up many of the reasons for the multitude of answers to the current situation.
A cocktail of deepening cultural anxiety, rising economic insecurity and a growing disillusion with the political system has made the English Question something far more complex than simply a response to Scottish devolution and European integration…(Prof. Richard Wyn Jones – Cardiff University)
But Vale also pointed out how ”England is, after all, a country in which national outpouring is rare” and I would tend to agree. Long may it remain that way; I believe in our famous Stiff Upper Lip, it’s an important factor, but sadly now a declining facet of our society. It’s an area of Britishness (or Englishness in this case) which helps us to drive on during a struggle, and to strive and triumph over adversity.
It helps to prevent us from continually bleating on about trivia, that and incessantly blaming others for our (mostly perceived) poor lot in life. It’s about time that, as both individuals and as a nation, we finally got up off our knees. We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and/or apologising for our previous (but historical) national failings and/or mistakes. It’s time to move onwards and upwards again
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead! - Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ (William Shakespeare – Henry V, Act III, Scene I)
It isn’t wrong to think highly of your country or to have pride in it, despite all the contrived and politically correct ‘instructions’ from others. The type that suggest you should be embarrassed, remorseful or that your pride in your identity may offend or exclude someone else. But trust me, it’s not a new phenomenon.
There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England…Sir Winston Churchill
I’m not always happy about many of the things that impact upon my life; I’m rarely happy about the predominance of self-interest in our society, I’m not enamoured with much of our political system and government. I’m upset and dismayed about our increasing social divide and often, I’m usually angry about declining standards in public services.
Despite all that I’m still – Proud to be British by birth and English by the grace of God; but I understand that even a simple innocuous and inoffensive statement such as this, was branded as ‘racist’ back in 2010 (see here). With this sort of prevalent silliness, is it any wonder many inhabitants of England tend to keep their heads down and/or often feel oppressed by their nation?
Irrespective of your nationality, ethnicity or creed, I hope you all had a Happy St George’s Day!
- PM ‘proud to be British and English’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Prime Minister sends St George’s Day best wishes (number10.gov.uk)
- A plea for St George (express.co.uk)
- New call for bank holiday on St George’s Day (yorkpress.co.uk)
- Google honours Saint George’s Day with doodle (express.co.uk)
- Do the English need an anthem? (guardian.co.uk)
It’s hardly surprising that as many as ”one in six adults struggles to read”. Despite all the government rhetoric about the improving standards of education, I and many others continually question that claim. In fact, some even think that we’re actually getting thicker (see below)…
Previous visitors to my blog will have noticed how often I’ve commented about the poor state of our education system. Any claims suggesting a ’dumbing-down’ of that system are usually vehemently countered by our government.
Michael Gove MP may have argued recently that exam success makes children happy however; is all that ’happiness’ based upon falacy? A false sense of achievement delivered without any real substance or foundation to back it up? One “apolitical retired teacher of the old school” summed up the news well.
…what is really needed in this country is for education to be taken out of the political sphere completely…(see here)
Obviously education is an emotive subject to all those impacted by it; students, parents, employers and politicians alike continually toss the education hot potato about. Consequently, it also follows that the subject of education is usually the source of good copy for our media machinery. Another commentator to the news, this time from Sweden pointed out;
PISA, the international inspectorate showed UK’s poor standards were caused by excessive state intervention, obsession with targets, exams. In successful countries politicians accept they’re amateurs, and let professionals, not tabloids, run education…(see here)
Irrespective of all the political and media wranglings; when you consider that students are buying essays online, many teachers have admitted “fiddling” exam grades and the latest GCSE results are likely to spark a Judicial Review, surly you have to start wondering, what the hell do we do to resolve it all? It ain’t getting any better…
Thousands of UK teenagers cannot read well enough to understand their GCSE exam papers, a large-scale analysis of pupils’ reading ability suggests…(bbc.co.uk)
Something that kind of supports my arguments surrounding certification of academic ability, that and seemingly endless love affair with educating to the lowest level of ability. Simply ensuring that all are awarded for their efforts, irrespective of actual ability or considering realistic standards of quality (see here).
What are GCSE results supposed to say about a pupil? – We have to decide whether GCSE grades represent a concrete indication of knowledge, or where a student lies in that year’s league table..(guardian.co.uk)
All that said, and irrespective of (anticipated) improvements resulting from the proposed EBacc; it amazes me that in these days of so-called education for all, there are still so many people that simply can’t read or write by the time they leave school. The fact educationalists can’t agree on the best way to teach our children to read (see here) is probably a compounding issue however; as a society we should still hang our bloody heads in shame!
Recently The Reading Agency launched their Six Book Challenge in an attempt to help those who have been failed by our education system. It’s aim is to improve the life of people who find reading difficult, by building their reading confidence and motivation. Because, as they say and most would agree, “everything changes when we read.”
It’s right, reading can change your life; the award-winning author Andy McNab is happy to attest to that fact. Andy is also happy to admit that he could hardly read when he joined the infantry as a boy soldier in 1976.
I’m a perfect example of how reading became so important in my life and really changed my life because when I was 17 I’d never read a book…(Andy McNab)
McNab subsequently joined 22 SAS Regiment and after his highly decorated and exemplary military service, he left the army and began a very succesful writing career. He has now written several best-selling and award-winning books about his experiences.
Despite reading being of benefit educationally, the debacle surrounding the quality of our education system (or the lack of it) will continue to rumble on. Perhaps now there is actually a scientific argument to justify some (if not all) of that decline?
The controversial hypothesis of a leading geneticist suggests that, despite the immense capacity of the human brain to learn new tricks, it is under attack from an array of genetic mutations. Ones that have accumulated since people started living in cities a few thousand years ago…
Human intelligence peaked thousands of years ago: Is the human species doomed to intellectual decline? Will our intelligence ebb away in centuries to come leaving our descendants incapable of using the technology their ancestors invented? In short: will Homo be left without his sapiens? (independent.co.uk)
Gerald Crabtree, Professor of Developmental Biology at Stanford University‘s School of Medicne in California, has put forward the iconoclastic idea that rather than getting cleverer, human intelligence peaked several thousand years ago. Our levels of intelligence are actually in decline.
THE DESCENT OF MAN
- Hunter-gatherer man: The human brain and its immense capacity for knowledge evolved during this long period of prehistory when we battled against the elements
- Athenian man: The invention of agriculture less than 10,000 years ago and the subsequent rise of cities such as Athens relaxed the intensive natural selection of our “intelligence genes”.
- Couch-potato man: As genetic mutations increase over future generations, are we doomed to watching soap-opera repeats without knowing how to use the TV remote control?
- iPad man: The fruits of science and technology enabled humans to rise above the constraints of nature and cushioned our fragile intellect from genetic mutations.
Whatever your personal views on education and intelligence, reading is always a very good starting point if you’re trying to improve your academic ability. It’s also enlightening and can often be fun too. If you’re thinking about improving your reading, would like to read more or even volunteer to help others with their reading, then perhaps the Six Book Challenge is a good option for you!
- The descent of man (independent.co.uk)
- Civilisation is making humanity less intelligent, study claims (telegraph.co.uk)
- GCSE scandal has damaged my students’ views of education (guardian.co.uk)
- What is the EBacc all about? (schoolsimprovement.net)