The Week 30th November, 2014

Hello again. This week I have been thinking more parochial and more national so if you’re not British this might be a bit heavy going. Having said that though, most countries in the world now have a large dissatisfied population and what seems like a bumbling and pathetic ruling party, blundering around with no good ideas so I expect most nationalities can connect with this.

First of all, UKIP (don’t worry, I won’t be giving them much air time) gained their second M.P., a rebel conservative. I have  always thought this method was interesting in British politics; becoming a rebel for not towing the party line,  maybe thinking outside the box? It is interesting that our political classes force their own to think so narrowly. I would have thought, being a lay man, that diversity and the ability for people to express their beliefs, in a well thought out way, is what running a country surely needs. Obviously I am wrong but I have to ask, is that because of the party system or the fact all the leaders simply cannot lead and fear dissension? From our present PM Cameron, to Milaband and on to the fringes where Farage sits (with that horrendous smile on his face and talking about going to the pub ever minute) – there is no one able to lead effectively. Cameron is so removed from normal life that he honestly just doesn’t get it – he has spent his whole life in luxury, living around London- how is he going to understand people from the North, Wales, Scotland, Ireland – or even Southend? I mean the man doesn’t grasp that we are not idiots – deals such as selling the Royal Mail hugely under priced was a scandal but glossed over. He blames everything on the last government, the LAST dammit government- that was years ago – five years ago!!!– Sure, anyone in business, education, industry is going to be saying “Well you know, my school is failing and yes and they haven’t really done anything except sold off the pitches to save the school money – but it’s all the last person fault he/she left it in such a state and I haven’t been able to make an impact in FIVE years!!.”  It is stupid and the man is stupid if he really believes we fall for that.

So how have we got into this mess? I think the answer lies in this; if you’re young then the world has become an even harder place to be in than it was for those who went before. We are expected to achieve higher grades/marks and levels and bring more experience than ever before to job interviews.  We have to work for free (used to be slave labour, now called ‘Internships’) and then thrown away when time is up.  To put it bluntly, this is entirely down to mis-management by consecutive governments – pandering to the media instead of listening to common sense. The world for a youngster now is grey, conformist, worrying, stressful and dull – let’s take a normal lad or girl in Britain today shall we?  Working family doing ok, money is ok, they are getting by. He/she starts school aged around 4 for nursery and everything up to this point is the parents fault!  I jest, but what I mean is that the State has had minimal hold over this child’s beliefs, his or her outlook – the family influences everything at this stage. It could be argued that the parents are both constructs of the State but then we go down the chicken and the egg debate and who has time for that?  So there we are, four years of age and introduced into a system that is state regulated and in most modern countries that is ok. Regulations are there to keep kids from neglect or harm, so nursery (sorry kindergarten for you American and Germans) is fine but then they turn five and they are thrown in to the education system where teachers have to help them read and spell and sums and the likes – and that all ok, broadening their mind and giving them the basics for life. From my experience of working with youngsters in a classroom setting I believe most teachers do a hell of a job, but there are some areas where the system cuts in and begins to constrain the thought processes. Take Art for example, and I don’t mean this rubbish you see at the Turner prize. I mean real Art, creativity, art that comes from within, that is unique. Children should be, and in some case are, allowed to express themselves with Art, Music and language – English should have more emphasis on expression. I am expressing myself through the medium of the written word and this is quite a beautiful thing when you really think about it!   This is where we, as a society, hit our first road bump. We are not allowing children to really express themselves. I know they need some focus, some incentive to actually do something but freedom should be that incentive –  this argument goes hand in hand with my other point which I will get to shortly (I know, it is exciting.)  Allow children to express themselves with creative activities then, if they enjoy it and want more we should nurture it. This construct can be applied to everything – capture their imagination first then develop. I try and do this when I’m coaching rugby or football with youngsters. I do give hints and tips but their feel for the game and their vision has to be their own, and that only comes from enjoying it, feeling they have something to offer.

So the laborious point I am making is this; our politicians are useless because we as a society have forced them and ourselves down a very narrow funnel. There is no longer room for men and women, who are borderline between brilliance and madness, for those who think differently, do things differently. The world has closed ranks and to get on and move up you have to conform and be studious which is admirable but not world shattering – young people are worried – all the time!!!!  We as a society need to take a step back from the precipice. Are we really just clones? doing the same subjects, fighting for the “best” universities, fighting for a respectable career –  where risks taking is frowned upon – just so we can bring back that pay cheque and spend so much of it on rubbish that doesn’t enrich our lives or the lives of billions around the planet  Just look at Japan and Korea – these two modern countries first delved down path the rest of us have now taken – building societies based on grades and conforming and when I look at that I also see this: countries with the highest youth suicide rate in the world, ageing and dying population, limited art, music, literature output – a highly conformist population (no offence to any Japanese/Korean readers  I am well aware of some brilliant creative work coming from your countries but the  heightened rates of pain in the young is recorded and a trend I see repeated here)– – Japan and Korea are like warning lights out in the distance that we are speeding towards.  Quirky isn’t bad – if you do own a big business or in industry in some way then maybe when your next recruiting take a punt on someone a bit different, maybe a bit mad, hasn’t come up the conformist route –  it may be the greatest move you ever make!

Getting back to the point I made earlier, society is always two half’s. One half is formal education setting out what the State deems fit and suitable, the second half is parents  – a group I have come to believe have not been talked to as frankly as they should of by the other half – parental responsibility is something the State seems happy to suck away from parents – and a lot of parent seem to be happy to relinquish  it. Spoilt children/young people are the fault of parents – simple as that – if you buy them everything they ask for with no rhyme or reason for why they’re getting it – you are a bad parent and to top it off if you are not talking to them and are merrily existing in tandem next to your children e.g. you sit watching TV in one room and they sit in another playing games all hours of the day then you’re a bad parent. This is my opinion, formed from working with children for the past 8 years. We are killing their creative mind by not engaging them with mad stuff like space or magic or fantasy – create a world where their own imagination can flourish – otherwise parents are creating a two dimensional copy of themselves, with all the disappointments and possibly flawed views on life passed on in the limited time spent with them on journeys to school or the hours spent staring at them as they live out parental dreams such as ploughing up and down a swim lane or bouncing a ball across a tennis net for hours and hours  – if the child loves doing this fine, but if they are doing it to please the parent – then it isn’t fine, is it?  Why not take a step back. The mind of a child is the purist and most imaginative thing on the planet –  give them as much knowledge that he or she asks for, when they ask for it, as much excitement and adventure as you can muster –  because who knows, all the hours playing space rescue in the living room might mean that one day your little boy or girl might have a unique and different way to understand some of the most complicated and mind boggling things scientist and engineers are doing and your little one may have a bright idea that stemmed from your games that could change our very understanding of our universe

Finally, here’s a thought to tie into all this. Black Friday! I just had to mention it. I like get buying stuff and having nice new stuff is fun but to queue for hours for a few hundred quid of a TV or something and then react like savages if someone gets there before you is, quite frankly disgusting.  The scenes this week make sensible folk despair for humanity!   I wonder what the children watching made of all of that – great role models!

So that’s it for this week again, as always these ramblings are just my opinions,  and I know you can take them or leave them – whatever you do with them I hope you all have a good week and we will meet up again next Sunday.


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