I was a complete failure at school. Period. Well, colon actually: I was a complete failure save for grade one CSE in woodwork. So there you have it; a drop out, but not a layabout. In fact, life was very active in my teens – just not at school. I was up early each weekday for a paper round, always took my bike to school and left on the first ring of the final bell dashing off to learn how to work with metal at our local blacksmiths. But for me, school, in the main was a drag and I read a book until I’d left the fabricated walls of Biddulph High behind me. But it’s been a problem.
When at the age of nineteen I decided to follow a call the Christian ministry, I could hardly punctuate a sentence correctly and when I saw a notice on the college board which finished with an exclamation mark it was the first time I had grasped its context and how it should be used (like here, for example)!
In many respects, the whole of my adulthood has been lived in catch up mode – working to keep up with my peers, whilst flying by the seat of my pants in order to make my contribution in the world – something which is a great passion of mine.
Today, I value the importance of education from the perspective of what I missed. The gaps which adulthood reveals are mere blind spots to a young adolescent. The importance of knuckling down rather than messing about lost to the carelessness of a misspent youth.
Now, as a parent, I see with different eyes. And not only as a parent but also as an observer of life – things are a changing, and education is more critical than it used to be if we desire a future for our children that doesn’t have a bearing on our past. Today, the market place of western society is changing, globalisation is playing its role and scientific progress and automation it’s part – and you can’t just ‘get by’ like we did in the good old days.
The success of our children lies, first and foremost in the hands of its parents. We can’t simply abdicate responsibility to the State. For those, who like me, left school unqualified and find education intimidating need to reassert our confidence in the lessons learnt since and accept that our lack of need not be our children’s portion. Let’s heed the warning of a recent government report and breathe encouragement into education by embracing it with warmth, fun and aspiration. Here’s how the Beeb reported on it:
Prof Alison Wolf, from King’s College London, highlighted the link between concentrations of underachievement in school and where traditional industrial jobs had disappeared.
“A lot of the careers and jobs that were the bedrock of white working-class family life for many decades and generations have vanished and have not been well replaced,” she said.
Committee chairman Graham Stuart said working-class parents might not realise how much the labour market had changed – and that their children would face a tough future if they failed to achieve in school.
“They might have hated school, left early – but still did well for themselves and they mistakenly assume their children can do the same,” he said.
Like the above mentioned, I was one of those who slipped through the net, but as a parent of children growing up in the modern world I have to recognise that educational disengagement is not a badge of honour but an error of judgement and so need to work hard that my lack does not become their inheritance. It might be a bitter pill to swallow – but mum always told me that which tasted worst helped most, and I still believe her and I am working at taking the medicine.
Circle of Life Is it ever right to put yourself first? I know, it’s a dangerous question to ask—and especially in a Christian context. Surely we exist to put others first—to prioritise their needs over our own. This is the Christian way—or certainly the inferred way to live as a Christian. But is it right?
Well, I’m not sure that it is right and certainly not in its entirety—and here’s why. People who give out, if not refreshed, tend to burnout—and often big time. And God does not what you burnt out—it’s not his will for you.
I mean, the church is littered with those who have ‘burnt out for Jesus’ the consequences of which have left a nasty mess for those brought in to mop up afterwards. There needs to be a different way—a burn on, but not burn out way: a sustainable way. So what is?
Well, it has to do with rhythm, cycles and seasons. Everyday has a rhythm, each week a cycle and each phase of life a season. And, at the risk of sounding like a prophecy from Ezekiel, each season has cycles that run within it and rhythms that run inside those cycles and together they become the circle of your life. The whirling and twirling of all those things come together to present you with the time of your life—in a similar way to the intricate wheels and cogs of a watch come together to present you with the time of day. Now it’s not possible here to talk about cycles and seasons but here are a few thoughts on rhythm.
People often think that rhythm is a bad thing because it leads to routines as if routines in themselves are bad for you. They’re not bad but good. Routines don’t crush you, they save you because they help to bring priority and structure to your days without which we can drift on endlessly without purpose. They provide the frameworks of work, rest and play – showing us when to start and stop certain activities – ignore them and we abuse the gift of life we’ve been offered. Do you have a partner? When was your last date night? Are you a parent? When was the last visit to the park – without the mobile, but with the kids! (I speak to myself, you understand!) And here’s a thing: Have you read a good quality book this year? If not why not – seriously, why not? Don’t you care for your soul? Now stop sinning and take a trip to Waterstones :) Okay, so I will get off my little hobby horse now – but not before I’ve made my point. Take care of yourself for goodness sake – after all God has done everything he can to take care of you through Christ – now it’s your turn.