Thursday, August 02, 2012

What a stupid, stupid statement!

A certain man made this statement: Team GB chief: dominance of public schools is unacceptable.

But of course, he must have been quoted out of context.

I had to go out to buy some ginger to put into my slow cooker where the glorious aroma of cinnamon and star anise means the belly pork must surely taste wonderful come dinner time.

There was a steel band made up of young people (black and white) performing at the town centre. In the sunshine.

I found myself thinking: now how would the lives of our young people be different if they are required to be in a steel band, a marching band, a school cadet corp, a competitive sport, etc. for all the years that they are at school.

This goes back to my own school days when I spent so much time playing in the school band and orchestra I had no time to get up to any mischief (or pregnant).

Every year we had a marching band competition. We had a concert band competition. We played in concerts from the presidential residence to public parks.

Yes, we competed against other schools. There were winners and losers.

My friends in the police cadet corps, the national cadet corps, Red Cross, etc. all had drill competitions. We missed lessons to attend drill practices. We also had to keep up with lessons because if we didn't, we'd be dropped from the competition squads.

There was also one other distraction from my band days: air rifle shooting. I loved it. I loved being about to hit the mark. I liked being able to analyze where I had gone wrong, and I liked being about to adjust my shooting so that I could hit nearer the mark.

My friends in the cadet corps also had their own shooting competitions.

We played sport. Inter-house, inter-class, inter-school, inter-district, etc.

We (the school) entered dance competitions, choir competitions, debating competitions, you name it. Every time, there were winners and losers.

Fast forward several years and in this country: My friends tell me that 'sports days' at their children's schools are a misnomer. The children sort of stand around in circles and dance. No one loses, clearly. No one wins prizes.

No child is allowed to have his feelings hurt, you see.

And then you get this minister who tells us that it is not good that Olympians are drawn mostly from the private/independent/public school sector.


He knows full well that only outside the state sector are pupils allowed to take part in any form of competition, including spelling bees. We teach them that in real life there are always winners and losers.

Some choose to do sport seriously. Some do not. But at least they have a choice.

I did not go to a private school. I went to a school that made a real difference to my life and the lives of many others. It was a school that taught us that the sky's the limit. Go, reach for the stars.

How did I get into such a school?

I sat an exam called the Primary School Leaving Examination. In other words, I competed for a place there.

Ah! I suppose this is where we get unstuck.

Meanwhile not enough young people are playing in steel drum bands.