Turn off the TV. Forget Facebook. Just give your kids some time
In our increasingly fractured lives, is it a surprise the happiest families are those you see playing together?
Observer, Sunday October 14, 2007
A society that fails its children is almost worthless. Two reports out last week seem to place Britain unambiguously in that category. The first says that our children are reaching primary school barely able to write their own names or string a coherent sentence together. The second, a study conducted by Professor Robin Alexander at the head of a group of Cambridge researchers, reveals that primary schools have been engulfed by ‘a wave of antisocial behaviour, materialism and the cult of celebrity’. It confirms Unicef’s impression earlier this year that British children are the unhappiest in the Western world.
One thing is plain. Though the government is busily stealing Tory policies to support marriage, this is not all its fault. Ministers can only do so much and there can be no mistaking Labour’s good intentions on education. Around £21bn has been invested in schemes around the SureStart policy alone and a great deal more through the education system. The failure, if it is as catastrophic as the reports make out, cannot be blamed on the system, on the lack of funds, nor even entirely on the widening gap between rich and poor, though, unsurprisingly, this does show up in the government’s annual assessments of children’s first year at school.
The main culprit stares us in the face: it is us. The values of British adult society, our individualism and the bewildering dissolution of the things that bind us together are ruining the lives of many members of the next generation. Actually, ‘have ruined’ is more accurate.