Social and political commentary from a conservative perspective

From the Daily Mail, we learn that the Department of Education has ‘called on teachers to create an atmosphere in which it is trendy to work hard and “boffins” are not bullied for being too brainy.’

Yes, teachers and all those in authority should ensure that bullying is stamped out in any place where they have a say, whether or not it is a ‘boffin’ being bullied, so that goes without saying.

I am more interested in this new assignment to teachers to ‘create an atmosphere in which it is trendy to work hard’. For starters, if any school can achieve this, it will be the first school ever on the face of the earth to do so. Schoolchildren have never, since the beginning of time, seen hard work as ‘trendy’, and they are not about to start now. In any case, I do not think they should be encouraged to do so. They are children, after all, and it is only to be expected that there are some things (school work, etc) that they will not embrace with the same enthusiasm as they do other things (playing, etc).

In addition, the notion that something must be made ‘trendy’ before we can encourage our children to do it, is something I find baffling. What about instilling in them the idea that hard work may not be fun, but in the end, it yields the fruits of success, a sense of achievement, and respect among peers? What about the idea that applying oneself to something, whatever the difficulties, frustrations, and challenges, might be something worth doing? What about the idea that sometimes we may not feel like doing something, but that self-discipline and dedication, irrespective of the views of others, are values to be exalted in every case? These are the lessons we should be teaching our children.

By trying to get teachers to pretend that hard work is ‘trendy’, the Department of Education is sending out a message that nothing is worth doing unless one can get superficial pleasure from it. They are preaching to children, telling them that they can attain things in life on their own terms. This is grossly irresponsible. Children do not rule the world, and sooner or later, they will learn that ‘trendiness’ does not make things happen. Far better to put trendiness in its real place, as a sometimes fun, often times diverting, ineffectual concept. In the real business of life, there is very little room for trendiness. There are many issues in this life in which the views of children are irrelevant. They need to be told that some things (eg hard work) are necessary, whether or not they are trendy. And they need to be told why.

Children should be encouraged to reach out for the tray of goodies that life can offer. However, with all this ‘trendiness’ talk, what the Department of Education is doing is kneeling at the feet of children and offering them the world on their (the children’s) own terms. Instead of encouraging them to aim high, and reach for a world outside their own, the Department is reshaping the valuable things in life so that they accord with the fleeting values of children. This I find surprising, and somewhat saddening.

7 Responses to “‘Teach children that hard work is trendy’, says Government”

  1. cityunslicker Says:

    The DoE does miss the point a bit.

    Are exams trendy, is theis why children have to do them 400 times a day.

    This comes hard on the heels of the nonsensical guidance on suggesting kids don’t put their hands up.

    It seems to me as if the NUT is well entrenched in the DoE.

  2. Heraklites Says:

    Very incisive, Bel.

    Is there something incoherent in the idea that, having encouraged a culture in which the lowest common denominator rules, the government now wants to make people try to reverse this culture?

    Perhaps it is a bit like trying to force people to be “British” after decades of promoting the opposite, or trying to make parents responsible for instilling “respect” when the media has encouraged contempt for authority figures. Can one put genies like that back in their bottles?

  3. Richard Havers Says:

    As we all know trendy is here today, and then gone tomorrow. Much like this idea of the DofE

  4. David Blackie Says:

    Even the word “trendy” is a killer. Whatever the authorities do, say or recommend will never be “cool” by definition.

  5. Crushed By Ingsoc Says:

    It is I think, a valid point Bel.

    When I was at High School, doing your homeork for each subject in the lesson immediately before was a sign of bravado.
    Disrupting lessons was a common pursuit, as it was all about showing that the teachers had no control over you.

    Getting sent out was an acheivement, being suspended made you a hero.

    And we were the TOP sets!!

    This is the early nineties I am talking about and things haven’t improved.

    Fact is, Peer pressure is the single most important factor dominating teenage schoolkids existence.

  6. jameshigham Says:

    Bel, all members training to be members of the treaching profession should, as part of their instruction, make a three week visit to schools of English over here. There they’ll see what dedication for low pay is, where the work ethic is king.

    Right now, my students are bombarding me with work via e-mail to check, comment, return to them. It’s just taken as read that students will put in three or four hours of their own time a day as well, especially at this time of year.

  7. Ron Says:

    How about trying to educate MPs that hard work is trendy?

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