Saturday, 25 August 2007

Sad, sad news

Two items in the news today are of great interest. One I can hardly bear to read. The other I strain my eyes trying to see the fine print.
The first, about 11-year-old Rhys Jones whose life came to a premature and tragic end when he was shot in the neck two days ago in Liverpool, has resonance with me. I, too, have an 11-year-old, football-mad son. I, too, have been shopping with him for his school uniform for his new secondary school. I, too, live in the suburbs of Liverpool, but across the water and a safe (I hope) distance from drug-troubled estates. But my son will see his first day at secondary school, and Rhys will not. The sorrow his parents must feel must be almost too heavy to bear. And what of his friends? Those young faces should be thinking about Everton's match. Their biggest fear should be facing their new form teacher on the first day of school. Instead, their innocence has been snatched from them by a hooded youth on a bicycle. On the other side of the fence where they live, other 11-year-olds aspire not to join a football team, but to gain street cred by joining a gang. Who took their innocence away from them? Were they ever innocent?

My eyes have just about recovered from straining to read the A-level results of schools in our area. There is something of a hysteria in this country about exam results. A-levels have become easier, we are told, so that the marks can remain high. Why do these exams have such importance? So they can get into good universities, I presume. And then what? So they can get good degrees. And then what? So they can get good jobs. And the undercurrent of all this is the exams matter because of where the UK stands as regards the rest of Europe and the rest of the world. They say, "See. Our education system still can churn out bright minds." But does it? And what of the bright minds who can't find jobs in the UK? Science jobs are so scarce in Britain, apparently, that all the talent is going to the U.S. or France. What a waste of an A-level. I get just as caught up in all this hoohaw as the next person, but really all I want for my children is for them to have happy, successful, prosperous lives, to make a difference in some way, large or small, to the world, and to be caring, polite individuals. And I feel that a lot of the responsibility for showing them the way falls on my and my husband's shoulders. Not the school's. GCSE and A-level results will be the icing on the cake, but they won't be the cake.
But someone please remind me just in case I forget all that in a few years' time.


Annie said...

I just read that sad story earlier on the BBC news website - so tragic, and absolutely needless.

Your attitude as a parent is one that more parents need to have.

debio said...

Words fail me.

How could this happen?

He was, apparently in 'the wrong place at the wrong time', but, as Rhys' father said, there should be no wrong place/wrong time in the UK.

Iota said...

I like what you say about exams and results. Do people with good exam results have happier lives? I doubt it. Why do we all get so worked up?

Kaycie said...

I feel for the parents and it broke my heart to see that poor boys picture.

My kids are already back in school and already taking tests for this or that. With one close to college applications, I am trying very hard to remember the scores aren't the end all, be all. It is so easy to get caught up in it all.

laurie said...

stop by my dogblog. i have an award for you to pick up.

Pixie said...

It was a totally pointless death... why cause some tough cookie who thinks he's hard done to and believes in the gang culture felt that it would be ok.... Right no excuse, no fucking excuse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's disgusting that this is happening. I wonder what will happen to the youth who is now a murderer. Will that be another head shaking, beggaring belief event? I expect so.

Just like you, I hope Amy will be happy in her life. I do hope she achieves something. It really annoys me when exams are now reported as "easier". Isn't it the fact that students have access to more revision tools such as the internet which makes it 'easier' for them to study? Exams aren't easier. I think that's quite insulting to the hard working students who spend years studying.

Crystal xx

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I too have an eleven year old and this story horrified me. Can't even imagine what his parents are going through.

I'm visiting from laurie's blog on her recommendation. Your trip sounds wonderful. We've done the "wild west" part several times and have just loved it. I can't wait to go back.

Queen Vixen said...

It is a terrible tragedy. No one ever does anything. If all ordinary decent citizens could make a stand instead of being imprisoned for protecting their own families and properties, then it would be different. We have been collectivly emasculated and have no power against the growth of this voilent media fuelled culture of barbaric ignorance. Terrible! As for A levels, when your time comes I am sure you will be chilled and pragmatic. My son did OK in his AS levels, its not the end of the world that he did not get straight A's, I just want him to be happy xx

Christine said...

My mom always told us she would be proud of us no matter what we did, as long as we did our best at it and we were happy. What more could we as parents ask for?

lady macleod said...

Tragic story indeed about the youngster. I have been contemplating the dark side of man's nature since I read an article in the TIME magazine yesterday of the slaughter of the last of the great gorillas - not for bounty, or meat, or even to steal the young - just murdered. How do we, as we are all humans, come to that state where murder seems a logical step to take?

On a lighter note, you will so not be able to step away from the A-level hysteria! Ha ha my dear. You sound like me a few years ago, but I had done my job too well as to the importance of education (not grades!) and my child took up the worry. I suspect you will find yourself not trying to get distance yourself from the hysteria but rather trying to provide some relief and perspective for your children.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

It's occurred to me that both these news stories are parenting issues, but from opposite ends of the spectrum. Young Rhys' parents would have been the sort to worry about exams and whatnot. His murderer's parents probably are not. This is a class issue, I think, but should it be?

Lady M: I think you know me too well. Of course, I will get caught up in the hysteria of A levels. I just wish there wasn't any hysteria to get caught up in.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Welcome, rotten correspondent. I've visited your blog as well, though I'm not sure if I left a comment.

CJ: I agree that it is insulting to the young men and women who take these exams to say they are easier than they used to be.

Welcome Christine. I think your mom is a wise woman. Happiness is the ultimate goal for parents.