Should We Worry For Our Children’s Futures?
The Small Boy Wonder (SBW) and I spent Saturday hedge-laying. In November and December we were pollarding willows, so get us and our green craft ways. Anyone with any measure of concern for the natural environment will be relieved to know that this has all been under the supervision of the local Wildlife Trust. We’ve not been let loose with bill-hooks and pole-saws on our own. The SBW needed to do some voluntary work to complete his Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.
Here is some of our handiwork.
As we made our way across the frozen nature reserve on Saturday, the SBW asked me (referring to a conversation from earlier in the week) why we don’t like it when he spends too long on the X-box. He didn’t think that adults really understood these things. I said I feared that too many hours on the console could addle the brain. We then had a quick chat about the meaning of the word addle. I also said that he certainly becomes more irritable when the game-time rises.
He said this was nothing to do with X-box playing. It would happen if you spent too long doing any one thing.
We left it at that.
Now I would be misleading you if I said that the SBW is a keen nature-lover who has enjoyed every minute of his days with the Wildlife Trust. One of the reasons for the hedge-laying was to block off gaps used by youths on trail bikes. The SBW expressed the view that the bike runs looked pretty cool, and that our environmental efforts would leave the local youth feeling “well vexed.”
But to his credit, he worked hard and didn’t make a fuss, and it’s given us some good father-and-son time together (even if a day’s physical work leaves me a complete wreck). His good attitude is in part because he recognises that getting the D of E awards may help him in the future.
The future. How scary must it be to be 15 these days and to wonder what the future will bring? And, even harder, what you need to do to equip yourself best to face it?
It used to be relatively easy. Today it’s likely that a lot of the jobs our 15 year olds will do haven’t yet been invented. If they go to university to study something related to technology, then a lot of what they learn in the first year will be out-of-date by the time they graduate.
Last week also saw the SBW getting the results from his first GCSE modules (can you believe it, he had an exam worth 25% of his maths grade about 10 weeks into the course!). They weren’t quite as good as we had hoped. But he wouldn’t be a Boy Wonder if he didn’t have an angle, and he was very quick to explain that Cs and Bs are the new A stars:
- The human mind can, apparently, only just comprehend the size of the number of people in his year who did worse than he did.
- It would have been a whole lot different if he hadn’t got into trouble with his maths teacher the week before the exam for repeatedly forgetting to bring his homework in, and been punished by having to do loads more revision questions than anyone else. So well done him for his sloppiness.
- The exam boards have finally bowed to the pressure of Daily Mail England and started to make the papers proper hard. What awful luck for him that they’ve caved in this year. It seems that Stephen Hawking would struggle to get anything more than a low B in GCSE Physics at the moment.
And so his apparently mediocre efforts represent a veritable academic triumph, when viewed in the right way.
To be fair to him, this isn’t all spin. We’ve had an e-mail from school, and the teachers are well vexed about the difficulty of the science paper.
But he could have done better with a bit more effort, and he will now have to do re-sits. His problem.
I feel that I should get more worked up about the SBW’s tendency towards slight academic under-achievement. I was a real swot at school (they would call me a nerd these days). But I can’t get very cross with my son. I think the rules have changed so much. I’ve seen lots of successful people in business with no great academic background. Skills and personal qualities seem to count for at least as much as formal qualifications and there are many admirable things about the SBW – he’s engaging, determined, has a fantastic memory, wisdom beyond his years, excellent analytical skills and has already shown a distinct entrepreneurial flair. His sister is also excelling in a field for which school was virtually no preparation (although, despite her various personal meltdowns, she did come out with a good set of results).
So I think the SBW will be alright.
Although I won’t be sharing these views with him until after he’s done all his exams.
He’s also got a lovely sense of humour. Hedge-laying turned out to be a lot more dull for him than lopping branches off willows and burning them. The SBW also worked out that he’d done his required D of E hours by about lunchtime on Saturday. Early in the afternoon, after he’d been sharpening poles for a while (see below), he came up to me and said:
“We need to go home. I’ve been doing this so long my brain’s getting addled and I’m definitely getting irritable.”