Children’s lives have become, in short, a verb. ‘Do this, do that’ is the constant command ringing in their little ears. Homework has to be done by a certain time. They have to be in bed by a certain time. The list goes on. A life of being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it is depriving our children of being creative and innovative. Where is the much wanted innovation going to come from then in the future to generate the jobs and prosperity needed in the country if our future leaders and workers don’t learn the skill of using their brain power in silence and solitude? Disciplines such as business and science require an ability to be a self-starter. Factoring ‘thought time’ into the school curriculum will be difficult as school have a race to the end, as it is, to get through the tick boxes. Perhaps it ought to start at home. Parents are always so keen to fill their children’s times with activity. Maybe an innovative way of thinking is required whereby allowing a child to indulge in what we see as time wasting activity, running the same car up and down the same path, should be reclassed as ‘thought time’.

Learning starts at home. The sooner ‘learning’ is seen as a pervasive process that begins at birth the more adept we will become at producing well skilled children to take up the challenges of formal education and the working world. The orthodoxy of the provision of education must be challenged. It can’t be seen as something provided only within a school, college or university. Education is an ongoing process. Witness a baby trying to grab a finger. Watch a child counting pebbles on the beach. Children are born with a natural curiousity for learning. This must be fostered by the parents and the support network of grandparents etc. However, life isn’t a level playing field and many parents don’t have the ability to foster and nurture intellectual curiousity. This is where state programmes come into play. The education of both parents and children must be undertaken with a vigour that matches the requirements of the state for a well qualified future generation of young adults. Vital within this is the ability to operate new media becuase it, almost literally, opens up a whole new world.
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I am standing for election to the House of Laity, General Synod, as an ‘inclusive’ candidate. As the name of my blog suggests I want to see gender barriers broken down so my daughter can grow up in a world of true equality. We are Christians and it saddens and grieves me that the Church, which is meant to be the font of all humanity, still hasn’t reached a unanimous position on the issue of women Bishops. Am I to tell my daughter that she can aspire everywhere else but not in the place where we worship God because God doesn’t want her? Opponents to the issue water down the equality issue by labelling it as ‘feminism’, as if that word were interchangeable with ‘scarlet woman’. I hope to win the election to be able to add my voice to the growing clamour calling on the Church to extend a gospel message of inclusivity to people.

Eleven years ago, just before I gave birth to my daughter, the Sunday Times carried an article about how baby girls were being left in forests to die. A photograph accompanied this article and the proof was appalling. Little baby girls were sitting in steel pails left to die. In the intervening years Globalisation has given the impression of the situation improving for citizens everywhere by increasing awareness of human life and suffering and offering a more distributive way of living. I could strike myself for being so naive because recent reports indicate that Gendercide is on the increase in other East Asian countries. According to the Economist, ‘wealth does not stop it’. Ancient prejudices still linger against baby girls and urgent action is needed. What worries me is that less and less women seem to be entering public life for this is the arena which acts as a global showcase for the talents of women. If we don’t have more visibility amongst achieving females and if people don’t learn to value girls the demographics for the world could be devastating.

The traditional way of viewing education was to regard it in two halves: (1) school was about getting the grades that were good enough to get you into university; and (2) University was about gaining the right degree with the right final result to enable the graduate to apply for a well paying secure job. Globalisation has changed this traditional model of education. We now need graduates who are able to possess adaptable skills to cope with a changing marketplace but, at the same time, universities aren’t there to provide remedial teaching for undergrads who didn’t pick up the basic skills of thought analysis, spelling, punctuation etc. Therefore, there is a downward pressure on schools to provide a better quality of education that will enable children to enter university equipped with the ability to engage in intellectual and innovative thought and debate.

Is that happening? No, it isn’t because a university degree is seen as a universal benefit now. Everyone is taught to believe that they can do a degree. While ideologically this may be sound and desirable, the argument fails to advance the basic tenet that skill and application is required by a student in copious amounts to gain a degree. I also blame the universities who have cashed in on the aspirations of many but offer a low level of education in return which ill equips graduates for a competitive market place environment. It makes a mockery of education.
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