Is the choice of the best we can say for Education Secretary Damien Hinds that he is either
[i] half full of well-intentioned if naïve ideas, or
[ii] half empty of well-intentioned if naïve ideas?
Or is it worse than this: half full of naivety/half empty of naivety?
Perhaps the appropriation of the half full/half empty dichotomy doesn’t really work either semantically with this expression [sans ‘glass’] or when there isn’t even with Hinds a suggestion of positivity?
Am I guilty of a negative tilt in finishing the year by mentioning Hinds again?
Probably, but that is because his most recent recommendation for bettering the experiences and lives of young people is so woefully, well, naïve, by suggesting the limiting of young people’s access to ‘smartphones’ along with ‘parents’ [*] also setting an example by limiting their own, and in this he is promoting a fantasy as a remedy.
His post-Activities Passport [AP] panacea for addressing whatever the ‘problems’ are, is, as reported in this TES, worryingly promoted as plausible. Like that AP, the idea is rooted somewhere in a reflection on What We Might All Consider Doing To Some Degree Wherever And Whenever Possible To Maybe Help Young People In A Complex World. And I mean as amorphous as this.
I understand that my being simply sarcastic is not enough as a riposte, so I return and refer to what I see as a fundamental disconnect between such pie-in-the-sky suggestions from Hinds and the curricula over which as Education Secretary he presides.
In another TES article about Hinds’ AP, he is quoted as observing,
“When I first became education secretary, almost a year ago, I went around asking everyone I met what they wanted for their children.
“The instinctive answer that came back was never about the curriculum or qualifications, vital as these are – what they wanted first and foremost was for their child to be happy and healthy.”
This sounds sensitive and sensible enough to be expressed by those concerned about their children/young people for whom they care and for an Education Secretary to endorse, as he claims he does, but he doesn’t!
How do I conclude this? In the first instance, as also stated in the TES article about Hinds’ AP,
The activities are intended to support parents and schools in introducing children to a variety of experiences and fulfilling activities.
However, the Department for Education told Tes that schools will not be given any additional funding to help pupils achieve these goals.
Well, to use an element of popular culture communication Hinds would severely limit: LoL!
In the second, the irony is that according to Hinds and already quoted, ‘everyone I met’ didn’t refer to ‘the curriculum or qualifications’, but he knows full well this is the driving force of how young people [at primary and later secondary school level] experience directly that over which he presides. If at primary level students are adversely effected by the teaching and testing of SATs – as is consistently and widely reported, and which in English seems to me undoubtedly the case – then no amount of essentially unattainable for most [excuse paradox] extra-curricular activities and/or limited use of smartphones is going to counter. If at secondary level students are adversely affected by the GCSE curriculum – as is widely and generally reported re. increased stress and mental health issues, and by professionals on how the GCSE focus encroaches into year 9 as well as diminishing areas of the curriculum which are creative and exploratory [the ostensible purpose of the AP] – then no amount of…
I have written enough on this blog with which people can agree or not about how I would scrap SATs and also address the dirge of a GCSE curriculum without repeating this now, though these opinions have to be my actual considered riposte to Damien Hinds’ recent thoughts on improving young people’s well-being. He needs to focus on that which he can change, if he had an actual will to do so. For him to indulge in ‘remedying’ aspects of cultural and socio-economic factors that do dominate the lives of all, but especially young people, is his right as a person and a politician, but seems to me misplaced as well as offensive for its naivety when coming via his role as our Education Secretary.
[*] he doesn’t mention carers/others – as reported – in his Daily Telegraph article