Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aspiration is up to us not the government

There’s a lot of talk today about the gap between the privileged and the less privileged in relation to education and how that can lead to well paying professions. A study has concluded that certain professions exclude people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The news has been full of this and person after person has come on saying the government needs to do something about it.

This is ridiculous. Aspirations do not need to have anything to do with money and it’s certainly not up to the government to create aspiration in people.

There are thousands of people throughout the world, often in what’s called the developing world by ignorant people (but that’s another argument) who come from extremely deprived backgrounds who have no problem with having very high aspirations. These poor people know that education is the way to attain their goals and they pursue education wholeheartedly. Their lack of money and lack of an entré into elevated society does not hold them back. Why then do people here in Blighty have this ridiculous notion that deprived people’s lack of aspiration is somehow the fault of those who are wealthy?

At no point have I heard any of the pundits talk about personal responsibility.

I am not naïve. I know some people are born into advantageous circumstances and some are not. I know it is easier to get ahead if your parents support you and you don’t have to worry about paying the bills. But I also know that in a country like the UK where education is FREE there is no reason why someone cannot work hard to get ahead. In many of the countries in the developing world education is most definitely not free.

There was talk about university and the cost and loans not being available etc. The student loan scheme doesn’t discriminate according to the wealth of someone’s parents and the information is freely available for those interested in looking for it.

The fact of the matter is that too many people from ‘deprived’ backgrounds are deprived in their attitude and not when it comes to money.

The study mentioned that many people in high level professions were privately educated and talk about this as a sign of inequality. Now how can the country collude in the dumbing down in our education system and then say that there is inequality because some parents who want their kids to be properly educated are forced to send them to public school?

Over the years, foreign languages have become optional, some jackass thought it would be a good idea to stop teaching grammar so millions of us are unable to speak our own language much less write competently in it, the concept of failure has become anathema, kids aren’t taught to reason and memorising times tables also seems to have become unpopular over the years. Teachers have been stripped of the power to enforce anything so homework is optional and forget about doing any extra work. And then people want to complain about the social divide and equality?

Look, we all know what it takes for kids to do well. Once our society grows up and agrees that we get back to basics then there will be more than enough opportunity for most. There are indeed inequalities and there is an old boys’ club old school tie thing going on but so what? That’s how the world works – if you went to school with someone and they are in a position of power of course you will use your connections to get ahead but not ALL positions can be filled in this way and companies wouldn’t want to. In the final analysis, most successful companies do want the best qualified and the most able candidate. Anyone can achieve this – it might be harder for some but it can be done.

I read something the other day that President Obama said. He was talking about the need for black people to have a new attitude and not blame racism on not achieving. I get what he meant. There is still massive racism but what he said was that if you are black and you break into a shop and rob it you can’t blame racism for that. He said that it is up to black people to do their best in whatever endeavour they undertake and at the same time tackle racism when it comes up.

The same goes for the ‘disadvantaged.’ There are some barriers, but those barriers don’t stop you from joining the local library and using the books. They don’t stop you from paying attention to your teachers; they don’t stop you from working hard. That’s down to you. So get on with it- keep and cultivate an enquiring mind and then when you encounter obstacles, formulate a plan to overcome them. Don’t do sod all and then complain that you are at a disadvantage.

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