How Much Should we Worry About State Education?
Posted on May 26, 2011
I was speaking with one of the Dad’s at the cricket club the other day whose son happens to be good friends with my son at school and within the cricket team, which is a good thing of course. However, it has become apparent that they are both in danger of suffering from that all too familiar young male syndrome of just about doing enough to stay above the academic abyss. They have both always been ensconced in the higher echelons of secondary education but have recently shown signs of apathy which has not been helped by Brighton Hill school being plastered all over the local press as being just about the worst school in state education history. The return of the highly rated and much praised prodigal son David Ayre as headmaster will hopefully reverse this problem, but it may be too late for many as it is evident that some of the staff at Brighton Hill do not really give a toss, whilst others are battling against the odds to improve standards.
The problem with this is abysmal recent ofsted report is that if you give most kids an excuse for failure they will grasp it and hug it like a long lost friend, because if there is one thing any bright child learns very quickly, it is not to smack a gift horse in the mouth. I was the same and so were most of my peers and with this in my mind, I have been tossing and turning in my bed at night thinking of ways to make sure that he doesn’t blow the limited education state schools offer. The cricket team has been one of my better ideas as it not only focuses them, it also teaches them about camaraderie and team work, but getting through to boys of fifteen the importance of escaping state education with decent results is a tough job. Both George and his mate will pass their exams at a canter, but I fear they if they are not careful, they will only be graded at level they could achieve blind folded with their arms tied behind their backs rather than something worthwhile.
Of course, as always, the problem facing the heterosexual male is the female of the species and the distractions they can cause, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes with great purpose. Unfortunately it is often the case that girls who are developing quicker tend to like boys who are a bit of rogue and of course this doesn’t fit well with someone who is keeping his head down and working hard. The trick I suppose, is to try and educate these boys from experience and get through to them that these girls are going one of two ways in life and that is either to grow out of it and leave their rogue on the scrap heap and move on to a chap with a better prospects, or to get pregnant early and experience a hellish life of near poverty, low aspirations and possible domestic violence. It is harsh comment, but many of the sexually active girls who I went to school with now look like they have been round the track more times than a worn out Greyhound. Fucking at fourteen apparently equals fucked at forty.
As it stands at present, I should have little to fear in reality, all the lads at our cricket club are a decent bunch and seem to have their heads screwed on. However, there is no room for complacency and if anyone is in the same situation as me it has to be worth continuing to remind boys the pitfalls of not getting a basic education for the sake of fumbling about with a naughty girls bra. I do this every time I pass a McDonalds or some poor bastard doing road works in the pissing rain or in sub zero temperatures (“That could be you son”). There seems to be hundreds of shit jobs to every good one when you look around you, that’s how capitalism works I’m afraid, but I believe that someone with half a brain, a polite smart demeanour and a helpful attitude will always be employable in a position where they can get on in life, purely because the competition is so weak. Take a stroll around Basingstoke town centre on a week day, it is a great case study of a swathe of British society that prides itself on ignorance, aggression and intolerance, it is both depressing and encouraging at the same time. Alleviate that in your child and you are drinking at the halfway house to success.
On an encouraging note, I was speaking to an old friend yesterday whose children are now 25 and 23. He told me that he had the same concerns as me when his boys were younger and I had nothing to worry about. His theory is if they are sharp witted enough, they will find the right path one way or the other with a bit of a nudge and guidance along the way. The eldest one has made a small fortune pedalling crack cocaine and the younger one is doing a nine year stretch for armed robbery. I am joking of course, one of them studied at Winchester University and the other completed an apprenticeship as a heating engineer, both are in full time well paid jobs and the fact that my children are so similar to how they were ten years ago gives me much comfort.
Just as I was finishing this blog I found out that my eldest son and his mate Matt have arranged to go to go to Thorpe Park tomorrow with their mate called “Big Dan” and his twenty year old elder sister and her friend who is driving them there. For Christ’s sake, is there any point in life when you stop worrying about your children?