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Back to the future

Wednesbury Boys High School

I was transported back in time this week, to my school-days  I went to an informal school reunion in the local pub. That bit at the end of the school in the picture was the school hall and it had a balcony at the back. That was torn down when they turned it into a netball court as part of Comprehensive vandalism by the local council.

Grammar schools were a bit elitist. I don’t mind elitism, helping kids to become the best that they can become. They need the encouragement and motivation to become the best mathematicians, scientists, doctors and musicians. However, there was also a culture of teaching them that they were better than the children that were less fortunate. I was reminded of a member of staff who thought he was so brilliant, he didn’t need to practice or rehearse the violin, he just needed to turn up and play. We have politicians with enormous power now, that are so vain and narcissistic that they don’t feel the need to know what they’re doing,  they just need to turn up and play.

My old school is now a ‘block’; just an extension of a Comprehensive, a system that is largely seen as a failure. Now they are converting them to academies and collegiate. Will that make the kids any smarter or better educated? I doubt it. There are improvements that could be made to education. The main improvement that is needed is the culture of the school. I hear the old boys of my school echoing the sentiment of many politicians who call for more discipline. The master instilled fear in the kids years ago. Is that what’s needed? Scare the crap out the kids? I don’t think so. It just makes them resentful and hard.

What is needed in schools,is for all the staff to set an example for the children, not just in school in out of school too. Respect has to be earned. Can the teachers of today earn respect? I don’t think they need to go back to wearing mortar boards and gowns, but I think some dress standards might help.

This brings me on to the concept of Ladies and Gentleman. I was described as a gentleman recently. The description referred to my behaviour of course. There used to be clubs for gentlemen. I wouldn’t mind buying my old school from the local council, restoring it to it’s former glory and turning it into a gentlemen’s club. What standards of behaviour would we have to require members to adhere to? What behaviour is acceptable and what is unacceptable?

We would have to allow women into the club, I suppose. It’s the law now, not to discriminate. What behaviour is acceptable in women? What is unacceptable? Should we have a dress code?

It seems standards in the language people use have dropped, now profanity is common, even on television. The subject of conversation can be unacceptable. We used to have a term for what was acceptable in public, it was ‘polite conversation’. My reunion was very polite and well-mannered. Is that what is missing in society? Good manners and polite behaviour? Is this what is missing in our new academies?

Young people are more image conscious these days, more narcissistic, but also more emotional. The concept of the ‘stiff upper lip’ has all but disappeared and young people communicate more. It is a type of communication anyway. Innit? u no wot i mean?

The role models are now the television celebrities. I know the rot started long ago with the emergence of trendy stuff like popular music. The 60’s was a time of long hair and short skirts. Young people rebelled against the conventions and became creative. Was that a bad thing? It gave us a lot more freedom.

I think people always rebel against what they think are the bad things. They are also influenced by the media. The media years ago was the cinema and the role models were film stars. Then the role models were pop stars and even fashion models. Looking back, the Beatles were role models, but didn’t except the roles responsibly. Maybe the pop stars of today can learn from their mistakes, but I don’t really think so. Even the characters in the soaps are role models. They come out with phrases like ‘at the end of the day’ and the next thing you know it’s being repeated by some officious little prat in the Job-centre advising some spotty youth to take an unpaid job in Pound-land  for ‘experience’.

We need balance in society. We need balance in education. We need the old standards and the new ideas. It’s the extremes of the old guard and the new brooms that like to tear down balconies in the name of progress that is the problem. We need to preserve the good stuff in Britain like the green belt and knock down ugly old buildings.

What do you think? Does society and education need better role models? Do we need less crap on television? Do we need less profanity? Is there too much pornography on the internet? Have standards slipped too far? Are women liberated or have they suffered as standards have dropped?

Please use the comments box, to have your say.


3 responses

  1. Don’t think I’ll ever be called a gentleman. I am disturbed by our cultire though. You only have to look at my old hobby horse. The JK show to see some of the astonishing things which happen in folks lives.

    3, December 2012 at 9:09 am

    • Hi Nick,

      When I talk to people overseas, they imagine us as having high standards and being quintessentially English and I find they have higher standards than us now. They speak better English in China than on Jeremy Kyle too!

      I think you have to be quite old fashioned and open doors for people to be called a gentleman. 🙂

      3, December 2012 at 11:52 am

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