Location: a shopping precinct in the North of England. Time: afternoon, on a weekday. A woman and a child are approached by two people with clipboards.
Q. Are you this child's mother?
Q. Why isn't he at school?
A. He needs a pair of shoes.
Q. Can't you go and buy him shoes at the weekend?
A. I've got four kids.
Q. Do you not go out with them at weekends?
Asked why she lets her son play truant on Fridays, another mother answers, "He's not missing much. It's only one day, ain't it?"
I watched this programme called Bunking Off, on the TV, last night. It was full of parents who didn't care whether their children got an education or not. They couldn't see any problem with letting their children play truant. They didn't see any need for them to acquire any knowledge whatsoever. There doesn't seem to be any stigma attached to being an ignoramus. Of course, the Brits have always despised intellectuals, but we're not talking higher education here.
I come from a family (and a race) that values education above everything else and I just do not understand that kind of attitude. I also don't understand it when my partner's mother, when asked whether she'd like maybe to do a course in some subject she's interested in, you know, just to pass the time with like-minded people, answers, "I'm old now: I don't need to learn anything any more."
A slap to anyone who sees learning as optional.