Friday, August 30, 2013

We don't need no education...

People who know me well know I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about edu-ma-cation. D'oh.

Education. It's SO important. I think it's the answer to almost everything. Seriously.

And yet the average government appears to consider education to be just this irritating thing that it has to put unreasonable sums of money into. (I happen to think the unreasonable part is accurate, just not in the same direction they do).

Every time I hear a politician whinging about how full our prisons are, how high unemployment is, how much welfare the system is having to pay out I get an overwhelming urge to yell 'then why the hell are we stripping our education system?" I'll get to that.

Education is one of the few areas that I feel our government, every government, should FULLY fund. Not just pay teachers properly, the wages they damn well deserve. Not just hire ENOUGH teachers so that our children get the attention they deserve. Hire all the ancillary staff to keep things running smoothly. Give schools enough to buy the BEST equipment. Pay for all the field trips. Provide uniforms. Or scrap them as an outdated concept. Whichever. Decent counselling services in schools, catering not just for the students but for the parents and the teachers too. School lunches. AND breakfasts.

And here's where I get really radical. Find out what works best FOR THE KIDS, stop organising school around hours convenient to adults. Actually use the research that shows that starting later works MUCH better for kids, they are more alert and more willing. Work out a format of learning and a curriculum that produces useful adults. Make learning something that the kids take an active role in, not just something that is done to them. 

I can hear a lot of buts. I've told myself quite a few of them actually. You see I KNOW that the way our society is currently operating this won't work. Because most families either need both parents to be working or they don't have enough money and the net result of BOTH of these is usually the same, a family in which the kids are not receiving the attention they need to become all they can be. 

What I am suggesting is EXPENSIVE, really expensive. But compared to the money we throw down the toilet keeping our prisons stocked to the gills it's chickenfeed. Compared to the rising mental health bill it's chickenfeed. Compared to the growing wage gap it is nothing at all. This country is becoming a place where the rich decide everything without consideration for the complex creature that society is. A place were the gap between the rich and the poor is widening every day, and the people in-between are rapidly becoming the just_scraping_by rather than an actual middle class. Not that I'm a fan of class-distinction. 

What I'm suggesting is building a system that produces a vast majority of well adjusted productive adults. Adults with respect for themselves and others, who understand that society needs certain things to keep running smoothly. Adults ready to raise a new generation of children growing up happy and healthy, protected and free to become everything they can. Children free to CHOOSE their path in life.

Not just the education system would need to change. 

I think there are a lot of attitudes out there that need to change. There's my personal bugbear, "I'm not a parent, why should I subsidise families?" Derp. Because society doesn't get terrifically far without new additions. You want to not help with society? Get back in the trees. It doesn't get very far if the new additions aren't given a reasonable shot at success either. The follow on for that is that if you give everyone a EXCELLENT chance of at least some success, society as a whole moves forward. 

There's "I can pay for my family's education why should I help with yours?" See above. More successful happy people, better society. Better for everyone - YOUR KIDS INCLUDED. Please don't be so lame as to fear the extra competition from poor kids who turn out to be talented (shock horror). Society is a team sport. 

"Parents should be responsible for their own kids". Yeah ok, there is a grain of truth in this one, selfish though it may be. I think a lot of parents take far less responsibility for their kids than they should. But the thing is it isn't just the poor families that are doing this, and it isn't ALL the poor families that are doing this. Most parents are doing their best. Poor families have some extra stresses going on that are hard for people who haven't been there to understand. It seems that even some people who have been there forget awfully quickly. (Yes, that was a blatant dig at certain members of my government). Those stresses often come out in ways that are really bad for the kids. But families that are doing better are just as guilty of mistreating their children. Of not spending enough time on their kids. Money doesn't making you a better parent, sometimes it makes you a worse one. Having the freedom to do what you want, sometimes leads to spending all your spare time entertaining yourself, fobbing your kids off on paid caregivers (or grandparents ;) ) while you get to have the life you might if you didn't have kids. For some people their children are just another symbol of their comparative success. Children are a responsibility, not being able to afford that responsibility shouldn't mean that the children end up on the scrap heap. This doesn't mean I think we should give low income families carte blanche to fuck it up completely without taking responsibility. Just that the system needs to do it's best too. Including giving families the help they need to be better influences. All families.

Go on, tell me I'm a communist. I haven't heard that one all day. 

I rather foolishly actually believe that society can repair it's own faults by just working harder on bringing future generations up better. That virtually every problem in modern society will get better if we just make a bigger effort in this one area. If we remember that today's children are tomorrow's leaders then maybe it will occur to us that making them all stronger will make all the world a little better. Day by day, a little better. until maybe we can actually be the place so many of us dream of. The Utopia we all wish we lived in.  

Children are a goldmine of potential. Not every child can grow up to be Stephen Hawking or (tries really hard to think of a sportsperson I give a monkey's about and fails). But every child is a vessel waiting to be filled, what we choose to fill them with identifies what kind of society we are. 

What my society is currently identifying itself as is one that is OK with the less advantaged children being left behind. Willing to ignore the potential of those kids because, hey they're poor whatever. How many brilliant minds have we left behind? Or potentially worse, how many have we disillusioned to the point that they work against healthy society?

Let's stop messing it up.

Peace. Out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Freedom of choice...

Not a rant about religion.

A rant about choosing.

A couple of things...

Apparently we have been given the gift of free will. Presumably we are supposed to use this.

Apparently man is not supposed to judge his fellow man, infringement on God's law is for God to decide.

In some senses religion is becoming almost farcical in the public eye. Because quite a few of the 'loud zealots' as I like to think of them quite clearly haven't put a hell of a lot of thought into either their behaviour or their doctrine.

Because the first thing that almost all the loud zealots do is pass judgement on other peoples decisions, and as far as I can see that means they are breaking God's law themselves.

When it comes right down to it, I don't really give a flying monkey's what other people believe as long as they aren't inflicting those beliefs on others. I don't object to be being told about your set of beliefs (in fact I rather like it since I have a bit of a fetish for knowledge) I only object when you start insisting that I live according to your beliefs rather than my own. You can think my beliefs are wrong, you can even try to change my mind about it. But the moment you start judging me for them, well you can piss off.

Religious law is DIFFERENT to judicial law. I'm all for a well maintained judicial system, and all for communities living within the strictures of those laws. Religious law is for the followers of that religion, if I don't follow your religion I am not bound to follow your religious laws. The opposite side of that coin is that I don't get to make you stand by my beliefs either. You can WANT me to follow your religious beliefs all you like, but if I don't believe the same things as you then I don't have any motivation to follow them. You can tell me that you believe my soul will be damned to the pits of hell for all eternity for what I believe, but because I don't believe the same things as you I don't have to fear for my soul.

Let me try to put this in the simplest terms I can, because I can almost see you sticking your fingers in your ears and going 'lalalalalala can't hear you' right now. Let's say you tell me that you think green tomato relish is totally awesome and with some nice cheese and crackers is the best thing ever. Lets say I believe that God has pronounced that we shall not eat vegetables before they are fully ripe. But you believe that if it's edible then God's ok with you eating it. So I say to you 'God will smite thee for eating of the tomato before it's time'. And you laugh and say don't be ridiculous, it's edible, why would God have a problem with me eating it? You see my belief that you will be punished for breaking God's law doesn't affect you in the slightest because you don't believe the same thing I do.

OK, I can hear you thinking it already.... 'but I'M RIGHT'. Who cares? I think I'm right. When it comes down to it until I'm standing in front of God with a green tomato relish sandwich in my hand IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO'S RIGHT. At all. And you know what, I have this feeling that if it turns out that I'm completely wrong and THERE IS A GOD, he/she is going to be almightily pissed off at all the judging you people have been doing.

You can feel free to think what I'm doing is wrong (I'm sure I do any number of things that you think are wrong) but unless I'm breaking the law of the community then go away and feel sorry for my eternal soul and let me get on with my depraved lifestyle. Rest assured that God will cut me to ribbons when it turns out you are right. But stop thinking it's any of your business to interfere with my choices simply because you don't agree with them.

What is the point of giving us free will if you people are just going to force me to do things the way you think God's wants us to? And let me be very very clear here, it is what YOU think God wants, this is not the same thing as doing it because you actually KNOW what God wants us to do. You think you know. That is all. That is what religion is built on, your belief in your understanding of how the world works. Your faith. If you can't manage to follow the rules yourself, why are you trying so hard to make everyone else do it?

Here's my suggestion. Calm down, get yourself a nice cup of tea (or whatever drink you're most comfortable with) and settle down with your religious texts. Have a really good read through them, because I do not think they mean what you think they mean. After you've read them, have a really good THINK about what it all means, and what your part in it should be. And most importantly of all, have a really good think about what you think God might think of your behaviour.

Because persecution is SO five minutes ago.

Next time you're passing an abortion clinic, maybe think about the 10 year old raped by her uncle who really should not have to bear his child.

Next time you see two guys holding hands in the park, maybe remember how it feels to hold the hand of the person you love the most.

Next time you're talking to your children about your beliefs remember that you are shaping a young mind.

Next time you pass a church of a different faith remember that they believe just as strongly as you do.

Next time you don't like someone else's choice, remember that YOU choose how you react to that.

If everyone believes the same things, if everyone thinks the same thoughts, if everyone knows the same things, what is the point of existence? If we cannot learn from our mistakes, what are they for? If we don't stop and examine our beliefs sometimes then our faith is blind, and rendered meaningless.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

If you've got it, flaunt it.

So I did something stupid.

I READ THE COMMENTS SECTION. On an article about something I care about. Interestingly there were very few nasty comments. Instead there was the even more dangerous moderate undercurrent.

It went along these lines...

"I've got nothing against gays, I just wish they didn't shove it in my face."

and my least favourite

"I mean straight people don't flaunt it in public."

The. Hell. We. Don't.

We wander around blithely holding hands with the one we love, we hug and kiss goodbye and hello. We marry in public spaces. We buy his & hers this that and the other. We go on dates, we snog in the back of movie theatres. We visit each other in hospital without needing someone else's permission.

We are free to love who we want, when we want. That is all they are asking for.

Peace. Out.