Archive for the ‘politics’ Category
If I hear one more MP blaming the ‘system’ I shall not be responsible for my actions. Who do they think devised the outrageous system in the first place? Who voted for these allowances? Who failed to point out the way that the system could be abused? Why did none of them, when told that it was acceptable for them to claim for such luxuries, realise that this was an outrageous use of taxpayers money and SAY SO?
The system may be wrong, but it is those who have instigated the system and allowed it to persist for so long that are wholly to blame.
The BBC reports that a new survey has finally come to some sensible conclusions about parenting. They say:
According to the panel, “excessive individualism” is to blame for many of the problems children face and needs to be replaced by a value system where people seek satisfaction more from helping others rather than pursuing private advantage.
It cites research suggesting that three times as many three year olds living with lone parents or a step-parent have behavioural problems compared with those living with married parents.
“Children with separate, single or step parents are 50% more likely to fail at school, have low esteem, be unpopular with other children and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression,” it argues. [Actually, I don't think that's an argument; it's a statement which is either true or not. It doesn't assign causation, just corrolation.]
[Among its recommendations are:]
• a civil birth ceremony conducted by a registrar in which parents publicly accept the responsibilities of parenthood
• free parenting classes available around the time of birth
• free psychological and family support if relationships struggle
• rules making it easier for parents to stay at home to rear their children
The BBC conclude that the government are unlikely to do anything about this.
The full report is here.
I think it’s very interesting that in the list of recommendations four are aimed at parents, six at teachers, and fourteen at the government. I’m encouraged that one recommendation is aimed at ‘All Society’ though I think we have responsibility to do more than just have a positive attitude towards children.
I’ve just watched an item on The One Show about teenage pregnancy. A number of things struck me:
- Apparently one of the things that gives the government concern with respect to teenage pregnancy is that children of teenage parents are more likely to live in poverty than children of slightly older parents. Aside from the inherent problems of using a relative measure of poverty, this reveals an extraordinary attitude in the government which could be summed up as “Poor people should not have children”; or perhaps “The most important thing parents can do for children is give them Stuff.” Or, and you can call me a cynic if you like, “Teenage parents are ruining our chances of meeting our goal to eradicate child poverty.”
- Another concern expressed in the programme was that teenage parents are missing out on their own experiences of youth. Or, we might say, “Children get in the way of your right to immaturity.” Having a baby certainly cuts down on your opportunities to go out late at night and perpetrate knife crime, I suppose. That may not be such a bad thing.
- There seems to me to be a complete failure to distinguish the fourteen year old who falls pregnant the first time she has sex with a casual boyfriend from the eighteen or nineteen year old who is in a long term relationship (and may even be married) who chooses to have a child. The former is certainly far from ideal for many reasons, but the latter seems to me eminently desirable.
Worse even than this was the presenters’ decision to ask their studio guest what she thought about the problem. Jackie Collins showed exactly why she should never be put in charge of policy-making (though to be fair, I don’t think she’s planning to seek political office any time soon). Education was her first suggested solution. Upon being challenged by the fact that 50 years ago there was significantly less teenage pregnancy despite the absence of sex education, she had no answer. Though she also clearly buys into the “Poor people should not have children” line, since apparently it’s fine for Bristol Palin and the other Spears girl to be pregnant, if only it weren’t such a bad example for others. Oh dear, oh dear.
PM’s wonderful Eddie Mair calling the LibDems after they were caught making automated phone calls to a quarter of a million voters:
So, I gather, he’s proposing to raise the school-leaving age to 18. He’s clearly never attempted to teach a bunch of bored, resentful, aggressive teenagers who’d rather be anywhere than in his classroom. I’m sure teachers all across the country are trembling at the thought of being stuck with 8F for an extra 2 years.
Here’s my suggestion. Why not lower the school leaving age to, say 14? But make it conditional on attaining certain grades in your KS3 SATS. If everyone who left school had a higher reading age, better writing skills and could add up, they’d be much more useful in the workplace. They’d be a lot more motivated while they were in school too if they knew they had to pass exams in order to be able to leave.
This would also have the advantage of allowing teaching at GCSE and A-level to be directed towards those who are both able and motivated, thus raising overall standards.
Sure, you’d have people without qualifications. We have that now. Yes, there’d be the problem of what to do with the disaffected teenagers, though I fail to see why that’s the school’s responsibility and not the parents’. And yes, you’d have to make provision for those who failed, and those who failed repeatedly. Perhaps one could say that after three attempts (taken at 6 month intervals) then you could apply for exemption.
And perhaps, you might want to make a better system of adult education available to those who, after doing some growing up, realised that they’d thrown away something worthwhile.
But please, let’s not make schools even more miserable places than they already are.