Teaching the young

Looking outside doesn’t seem to be the best idea today, it is another one of those warm damp days, yesterday evening I turned the TV to BBC one to watch the teatime news, I had turned over a little early and the days coverage of Wimbledon was just coming to an end, so I left it there and returned to what I was doing on my PC. I could here the sound of Tennis balls, players and the crowd, but when I looked up the windows there was a steady rain falling and the sky was black, with all the threatening power of the Thunder that never happened, ‘Flaming’ June, correct, but the other use of flaming as it normally is in the UK. We have this delusional idea that the Summer is filled with sunshine and long lazy days, it fills us with hope every year but reality shows us a different story. Life is constantly filled with false hopes and expectations, images that in our mind are the ideal of how our lives will be. When working I came a cross so many disillusioned youngsters who had traveled through their early years being filled with the TV gold plated view of their future. They had reached the grand age range of their 20’s and felt hard done by, they didn’t have the big house and fancy fast car, their time wasn’t spent horizontal on the beach, with a photo perfect partner massaging them with oil. Their sculpted view of world from the media and debt laden parents who covered them in expensive items no one needs, wasn’t real, their wages were low and they had to be there and do something to get them. Their start in the world of disillusion, leads to a life of anger and frustration, with growing anger at everyone and anyone, as they are owed, what they had been led to believe was there.

That is just an example of the illusion that we are all guilty of building, I never once when I was younger, considered that my future would turn out to be what it is, yet here I am. There were no lessons at school that every made me think that although healthy then, I might not always be that way. Not once did I ever see or hear anything that gave me the impression that there were illnesses that couldn’t be cured by doctors. I like most children was protected from all of that, I also protected my daughter from it, but she did at least see me ill several times and visited me in hospital, so there was a seed there of things could go wrong.

Some of you will be thinking at this point that there are loads of programs on TV, like Casualty, 24hs in A&E and so on, but have you ever managed to make a teenager watch a program they don’t want to, the situation these days in many ways is worse, when I was a child and in fact when Teressa was, there was only one TV in the house and we all watched the same things. Today the TV is no longer a family activity, it is an individual experience, each person watching what they want in their own rooms, if what I hear is true the younger members are also more likely to be playing games, than actually learning anything. This is why I think it is time that with in the School situation there should be a view of things not being perfect, of not getting a job that pays £50,000 a year at age 18, of finding yourself disabled, dealing with pain and illness and that they are real possible future facts, not horror stories that happen to others. I know it is impossible to teach them everything that could ever happen in the future, but I truly feel there is a huge gap, the only people I ever saw ill was one of my Grandparent, I say once in a hospital bed and I wasn’t allowed to go again, he died a couple of weeks later and I learned nothing, other than illness should be hidden.

We all want our children to have a childhood and we all want to equip them with the tools for their future life, unfortunately we don’t know what their future life will be. GCSE’s and Degrees doesn’t equip anyone for the possibility that they could need someone else to wipe their backside, or that the pot of gold they dream of may be a pot of sick. How to do it? A hard one but one I believe that need discussed and one that has to stop being hidden.

7 thoughts on “Teaching the young

  1. We have this delusional idea that the Summer is filled with sunshine and long lazy days

    Victorian novelists have a lot to answer for.

    As for our illusions, I think instead of self esteem classes and indoctriniation about “rights” (aka entitlements as in, Can’t sing, zero talent? Of course you can be a rock star, television presenter etc., you can be whatever you want to be) we should teach existentialism and stoicism.

    This course would include a lesson in how to deal with the fact that life is never fair, the world is as it is and nothing will change it and that the government does not have a bottomless pit of money that they can throw at problems.

    I guess I’m quite a few years older than you (1948 vintage) because in childhood I saw enough to shatter any illusions I might have had about life being perfect. Kids a generation before me however saw want and deprivation, disease and premature death all around them.

    And yet somehowe many of them managed to live worthwhile and fulfilling lives.


  2. You’ve written very eloquently thoughts that I’ve been mulling over for a long time. High school here in Canada left me utterly unprepared for most of the life challenges I’ve faced. (Ironically, the class I found most useful was Typing 101 because it allowed me to find work when my university degree could not.)

    As for the gaping chasm between what students are encouraged to dream for themselves as a future life and what that life inevitably turns out to be, it does seem cruel in the end. In high school, we were looking at the lotto winners of life, the famous actresses or writers or sports stars and never had it explained to us how slim the chances are of attaining that dream. I wish it had been explained to me, I would have chosen a completely different career path.

    If I could sit down with my younger self, I’d tell her not to be so foolishly and mindlessly ambitious. Find an okay career that pays well. Forget all that bee ess about doing what you love for a living. Do it as a hobby first and then see where it takes you. If it doesn’t take you anywhere, move on. And most importantly, take your pleasures and contentments where you can and don’t underestimate their value.


  3. From twitter the responses tell me that this is a problem round the world, but how to fix it? Those already there I fear there is little hope for, the future generations deserve something better and without action now, nothing will change.


  4. You are correct, I began in the 60’s. I understand fully wanting to protect children, as a mother that was my job, but I didn’t realise as I was still a child myself the world she was heading into. Luckily my daughter had eyes of her own and used them.

    There has to be something that can be done for the generations just starting into life, that will let them see that being famous and having millions in the bank is for a tiny tiny minority of an even tinier sector of well connected individuals. We have replace aristocracy with other brainless individuals who unfortunately are also encouraged to act even more brainlessly and get paid even more!

    Ordinary is what the millions on the street are and always will be, so live with it. I have never seen that message on the front of a glossy magazine.


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