Tuesday, 9 August 2005

I don't need to know anything

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?
A. Yes.
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?
A. No.

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.


  1. Yes, I understand that same culture of education and the value placed on it.

    But is it worth the highblood pressure, dearest J? Some battles are better left to die on their own. And then again, as I have noted in my post today, some are truly worth fighting about.

    Hope you are well.

  2. My mother was of the "By God, You Will Get An Education ... If I Have To Walk You To Your College Lectures Myself" school. God bless her soul. So, yes, I understand. xoxoxo

  3. B, I actually suffer from low blood pressure, so it's ok. Also, my blog is called "Slap of the Day" and its sole purpose is for me and others to vent, so I think I'll carry on.

    Who decides what battles are truly worth fighting about?

  4. Barbara - I think this *is* a big battle - the trouble is that those very children are the ones who in ten years' time will be shaping our world - if not our politicians and teachers (since they won't have an education, LOL), then they will be the half-hearted voice on the other end of the phon when we phone up the council with a problem, or the ones at the call centre who can't spell our names right and so we get fined for not paying the London congestion charge, or the people serving us in shops who get our change wrong and don't care, or the ones who get resentful and alienated that society is offering them nothing and hang about on street corners, take up burglary, become targets for fanatical preachers who can talk them into things because they have not been taught the capacity to reason...

  5. I am in agreement with most of the grumpy comments here. I am tired of not being able to fill jobs because the people who applied are so apathetic they can't get out of their own way. Plus, what else would the little darlings be doing with their time? And how do they ever expect to get a job, and be a productive member of society?
    *whallop to the mother*

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  7. think you do know J that education is not regarded with as much respect in the UK as in many other countries we know.

    Yes I totally understand your anger and frustration as I too come from a family where going to university is a minimum and education is considered to be one of the most important values.

    Guess the parents these kids have not been educated so what would they know or understand - unless they are ambitious and want the kids to do better?

    Slap these sad ignorant parents I say.

  8. I agree, Carole - I also have tried to fill training jobs (editorial assistant in publishing; I was managing editor) and have had: people who can't spell on their CV; people with upper second degrees in English who missed 97 mistakes out of 150 on a 5-page editing text and added a few more by correcting some right things to wrong; people who, when employed (in desperation), complained on the Wednesday of the first week that they hadn't been given an 'interesting enough variety of work'; people who, aged 21 and after 4 months in the job, wanted to know when they would be promoted to editor and have their own authors, despite having left bang on time and arrived 20 minutes late every day of the week; people who failed their 3-month trial who accused me of ruining their lives deliberately out of spite, after I had spent every Friday afternoon one-to-one with them giving them typed lists of sentences and asking them to 'underline the main verb', 'now the subject noun' in an attempt to get them to understand the use of a semi-colon ('what's a verb' was the answer, and as I said 'A verb is a doing word' to this 21-year-old university graduate I didn't know whether to laugh or cry).

  9. Most of us reading this blog value learning for its own sake - personally, i pride myself on being a know-it-all :>)
    Nevertheless, in today's social climate, not everyone sees the benefit of education. If the government practically pays people not to work, why should they bother trying to better themselves? Every social welfare system should make continuing education a requirement of receiving services, IMO.

  10. I'm a proud know-it-all too, D (No? Really? LOL!)

    And I agree with you. :-)

  11. I was raised with valuing learning for its own sake, too, and am trying to raise my own kids that way. My parents once pulled me out of school, but they felt it was worthwhile because we were travelling, which IS a learning experience. Well, it's a learning experience when you have parents who actually care about you absorbing the culture and history of a place. I'd suspect shoe-lady wouldn't give a thought to such concerns like that, though. Sheesh. Can I slap her with those shoes instead of my hand?

  12. Isn't it sad when parents don't want a better future for their children?

    Shoes are very good for slapping. :-)

  13. Out here they have a policy that if your child misses so many days of school, the parent has to go to class. I don't know how effective it is as I haven't heard of anyone actually having to do so.

  14. A couple of years ago a woman was sent to prison for letting her teenage daughter play truant. It was in all the papers, etc. When she came out she said she understood what she'd done and would never ever do it again. She was in the news again recently for the same thing. Some parents are just useless. What about the mother who said she was proud of her three teenage daughters, all of whom are pregnant at the same time?

  15. hontapocasgreen13/08/2005, 01:29

    A little late to the party, but that is truly one tired excuse that woman gave. Honestly, I'm a mother & I do not find it an enjoyable experience to take them to the store because someone always has to use the restroom, they want to touch everything, and complain tirelessly about nothing. I would not pull my either one of my kids out of school just to shop with ease. I'll just do what women have done before...deal with it!

    I constantly remind my 10 year old to be appreciative she can get an education. It was once illegal for my people to know how to read, & it wasn't even a full 100 years since kids had to go to work in the U.S. in unspeakable conditions just to help support their families. There are developing & third world countries that still deal with these issues. Education is precious!

  16. You're right, hontapocasgreen: it's only in our affluent countries that people view education in that way. And what you say about kids working is true of the UK too - Dickens wrote about them with such compassion!


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