Warning, OUTRAGEOUS is a series of filth, swearing, insanity and gross images. The easily offended (and not so easily) and anyone under about 35 should stop reading right now!
I watched a programme last night called Graham someone or other’s (can’t remember his name) amazing school for boys. Same bloke who did that thing creating a choir in a bit of a rough school. Anyway…
…I have a comment or two – surprise, surprise. What the guy is mainly trying to do is raise the boys literacy levels. He argues that we are getting it wrong teaching girls and boys in the same way and that is the reason boys are slipping behind. I agree to a certain extent, though when I was at school – shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct – boys and girls were taught in identical fashion and as far as I could tell, success or failure came in equal measure to both genders.
Success at that time wasn’t measured, of course, by Googling all of your course work without actually learning anything. Nor was it gauged by being able to answer questions on a single chapter of a book, gaining ‘A’s for every discipline, with additional stars added to your result if you managed to get through the exam without dribbling on the paper or shitting yourself.
Also, failure, by today’s standards, didn’t usually include leaving school unable to read and count to a pretty high standard, but then that was in a time when discipline wasn’t a dirty word, parents could give you a whack round the lughole without being reported to child line and social services, and attention deficit disorder and dyslexia hadn’t yet been invented. Nor would they have been used as all-purpose excuses for why one kid couldn’t read and the other kid was a right little bastard running riot all over the place, disrupting not only his own education, but also the education of all the well-behaved kids subjected to his uncontrolled rampage.
Let me outline a few of the reasons I see for these changes, though you can take them in any order you please:
1. Kids today are fed on crap that doesn’t nourish their brains and worse than that, they are pumped full of detrimental muck in the process (muck is the scientific term). Aspartame, for instance, is a poison, yet parents and others will happily pour gallons of the stuff into their children without giving it a moment’s thought. If they drop a sweet on the floor, it’s don’t eat that it’s dirty, but finish your bag of fatty salty corn snacks and litre of purple-dyed toxic chemicals or you’re not getting McDonalds for tea.
2. Attention deficit and all the other syndromes apparently didn’t exist back then. I used to be in a class of 35 to 40 kids and oddly, if any of them did have these problems, they didn’t actually manifest themselves due to the threat of the slipper or being sent to the head for caning and having your parents informed. Your parents would likely then punish you further, not just for the misbehaviour, but also for shaming them. Now I’m not saying ADHD and the rest aren’t real, because I believe they are caused by the added muck in their diets as in 1 above and also because of…
3. X-box, Play station, Wii and a hundred channels of mind-destroying, flashing image littered, dumbed-down pap TV. Kids today don’t spend twenty minutes playing etch a sketch, an hour building things out of Mechano or making models with Plasticine, before going to play football in the park for two hours, followed by a tea of meat and two veg and an hour’s reading in bed before lights out. No, they come home, chuck their satchel in the corner and slump in front of X-box alone in their rooms for four hours, eating their chicken nuggets and dips without even noticing – all washed down by some electric blue fizzy poison – while killing monsters and being mesmerised into a state of docility by flashes and bangs and whirling images, getting fatter, more idle and stupider by the moment and also having their attention spans reduced to the level of a brain-damaged goldfish into the bargain. The reason for all this is…
4. No one takes any responsibility or shows the slightest interest in them. As long as they are in their bedrooms and safe from the marauding gangs of paedophiles roaming every street and park and as long as they are out of mummy and daddy’s hair, leaving them to flick TV channels all night in peace, where’s the problem? Well, apart from the fact that all possible sanctions against children have now been barred by law, or made unacceptable, parents like the ones in the show mentioned above, have become children living with children. Just one example of a comment from last night’s programme “I’ve tried bringing books home, but he just won’t read them. He’d rather play X-box and, well, you can’t make him can you.”
You can’t fucking what!? was my response. Whoa there madam, in case it slipped by you, YOU are the adult in this relationship, he is the child. If he’s refusing to do the reading he is supposed to be doing, take the bloody X-box away. You are not being kind by letting him have his way in all things. Quite the opposite, you are damaging him and failing to give him any boundaries (or her, of course). You are allowing him to turn his brain to mush, not to mention learn about shooting whores while playing grand theft auto, and it is up to you to do something about that.
If I could have lived on crisps while watching x-rated films all day and night, I would have, but I wasn’t allowed to. And, bar two occasions (nudie book under bed, pinching two bob from mum’s purse and getting caught) I was never hit as a child. If I was grounded, it was generally only for one day and there was little I could have taken from me other than a black and white telly with two snowy channels and dodgy horizontal and vertical holds.
Despite that, my parents were in control and it generally took little more than a withering stare to ensure anything I was doing wrong ceased immediately. Parents, I know times have changed, but it’s about time you grew a pair and let your kids know who the boss is. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a little responsibility now and then, either. Ever clean dad’s car and have him tell you what a good job you did? Works wonders for your self-esteem, as well as for your ability to take tasks on and see them through.
5. Related to four, I know times are hard still for working people and I know there never seems to be enough hours in the day, but surely you can find half an hour here and there to spend with your child? I’m going to confess here that I actually haven’t raised children, but in my experience, lots of kids are aching for a bit of attention.
Over the years, among the children of friends and relatives, I can honestly say every one of them has gravitated to me and I will tell you why. First, I talk to them like equals and not like retarded midgets and if they are in the middle of telling me something, I don‘t hush them up to start a conversation with another adult, but let them finish. I don’t like being cut dead in mid-sentence like what I’m saying doesn’t matter and neither do they.
Second, I show some interest in what they are doing and ask how they‘re getting on at school – both with their work and with other kids. Third, I spend a few minutes giving them a hand with some homework they are struggling with, or letting them read to me.
Fourth, particularly when they make remarks about being no good at something or being a bit stupid, I tell them they just haven’t been taught properly, or that you can’t be good at everything and it doesn’t mean you are stupid. Far from putting them down, I offer a few words of encouragement and find telling a story of something I was rubbish at and laughing about it (obviously I have to make that up, what with being good at everything), makes them feel a whole lot better about themselves.
And I’ll tell you this, they eat it up like starving people. The knock on of this was without exception, I gained their respect and when I asked them to do something, or told them it was bed time, I didn’t get a lot of hassle and back-chat because they didn’t want to disappoint me. And after all, if you can’t be bothered and would rather they got out from under your feet, why did you have them in the first place?
6. Non-competitive sports days. What the fuck is that all about for crying out loud? No wonder we’re becoming rubbish at everything. A policy of not being allowed to have any losers, in case it hurts the poor little darling’s feelings, is creating an atmosphere where we don’t create any winners either (I know we do have some winners, but let‘s face it, they are the exception, not the rule). Instead of developing kids into the peaks and troughs of Switzerland, they are turning them into the dull flat mediocrity of Belgium. Instead of snap crackle and pop, we’re churning out a lake of cold porridge.
Recently, I saw some footage of an old newsreel in a 1950s school. Asked the question, what do you want to be when you grow up, the orderly and respectful children were replying: Please sir, I want to be a pilot. Please sir, I want to be a nurse. Please sir, I want to be an engineer. Please sir, I want to be a vet. But what would the same question now receive by way of response? If they could hold their slack-eyed attention long enough to get a coherent response, that is. I wanna be a footballer. I wanna be famous (what for?) dunno, just famous, innit. I wanna be a moggel (that is to say “model“, though in this case muggle is interchangeable).
We have the media obsession with talent-less nobodies and immoral, unaccountably wealthy soccer stars to blame for this and alongside the lefty, dumbed-down factory of our education system, the potential of millions of kids is going untapped. In place of scientists, engineers, or even a decent carpenter or plumber, they are instead turning out generations of Jordan and Peter Andre wannabes, whose unrealistic expectations will only hurt all the more when they leave school for the scrap-heap and realise they‘ve been sold a fantasy that ain‘t never gonna happen.
In last night’s show, one boy was asked what he wanted to do after school and he said he wanted to be a footballer, or failing that, work in McDonalds so he could have burgers for tea every night. His back up plan, should his dream of attaining the dizzy heights of a McDonald’s employee came to nothing, was Burger King. How sad is that? Someone has to do those jobs, I guess, what with not being allowed to burn those fat factories to the ground, but surely no one should have burger flipping as a life ambition?
The guy in the show is using a method which includes getting boys out of the classroom and getting them involved in various activities to both excite them and capture their interest. It appears to be having the desired effect. Letting the boys play at Roman soldiers, fighting with toy swords and shields and forming phalanxes, etc, is being used to encourage enough curiosity to sit and read a book and learn more. A sleep over under makeshift shelters, was turned into ghost stories being read around a camp fire, with dad’s joining in the reading, thus making reading not a sissy thing that only girls do.
A lot, if not most of these boys, have only been failing because no one has taken any interest in them. One kid had tears in his eyes when asked how he felt when he couldn’t read something. I feel sad, he said, and like I’m daft. You don’t really believe you’re daft, do you, asked Graham. Yes he nodded, little face crumpling.
Well he isn’t daft, it’s the system and his own parents failing him that is the problem. Yet that poor little sod is left to think it’s his own fault and what’s worse, he had no expectation of ever being anything but a failure and had given up even trying. In class, most of his effort was put into being invisible, attempting to avoid being forced to read and be embarrassed by his inadequacy. I used to do that in French lessons. Therefore, je ne parlez francais.
In all honesty, my parents showed zero interest in me. I forged my parent’s signature on my homework book for several years and never got caught because I was never asked about my homework. I was never asked about school or how I was getting on, or if I was happy or anything else. Consequently, my potential went untapped, my confidence was wrecked, school was miserable and I eventually truanted (every day for an entire year) until they expelled me.
I never really recovered from that. I went on to educate myself, but with a bad start, I was always running to catch up and never really did. I could have been a contender, ma, but no one was ever in my corner to help and encourage me. If that can happen to me, an amazingly talented genius of high intellect, with a rapier wit and razor-sharp mind, what chance for lesser mortals?
Children are the future. They deserve time and attention, love and cuddles, encouragement and support, and when required, they also deserve to be told NO. It’s not rocket science.
In the second programme (it is now a week later, by the way), Graham got the boys to write and perform a play. So what? I’ll tell you so what. Not only did this get them thinking and writing, with a definite target to aim at, but also, putting the whole thing together themselves and getting up on stage to perform it, gave them both pride in their achievement and a much-needed boost to their confidence.
This bloke Graham had 8 weeks with these boys. What he did was to introduce excitement, interest, fun and competition. Excitement, interest and fun held their attention and the competition (god forbid, horror of horrors in case someone doesn’t win apart from the winner – doh!) made all of them try to be the winner or at least to improve.
They didn’t all get the gold medal, but they got a sense of achievement and success from getting better and having it recognised. If you are a sprinter and Hussein Bolt is kicking your arse race after race, by our school’s way of thinking, you should give up and sit in a chair because what is the point of trying? I’ll tell you the point and it’s called striving to be the best you can and not giving up.
Anyway, upshot, among a class of 39 failing boys, over all they caught the girls up in reading age by an average of 6 months. All of them got better, in fact, and in those 8 weeks, one kid improved his reading age by 20 months! That’s an improvement of almost 2 years in 2 months, compared with several years of current teaching methods that had left them all floundering, with a deep mistrust and loathing of books.
They have gone, in a few short weeks, from shunning books, to being excited by them; from being forced to grudgingly read a few pages, to devouring them with curiosity and pleasure. One kid has swapped several pointless hours on his X-box, for reading instead – a minor miracle!
And what Graham did was interest them, encourage them, ask for them to try, recognise their successes and take an interest in them one way or the other. Like I said, it’s not rocket science and it works.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad
They may not mean to but they do
They give you all the faults they had
And add some extra just for you…