Thursday, 8 October 2009


Conscientious driver that I am, twice this week have I been forced to slam on the anchors to avoid mowing down a couple of wheat ears among the latest crop of students who specialise in stepping off the pavement straight in front of moving vehicles without looking - relying on that infallible immortality of theirs - the second without even an iPod glued to its ears as excuse.

Whether or not all the 'Drink Yourself To Death For A Fiver!' leaflets the Freshers are bombarded with by local bars the moment they come up had anything to do with either incident, it struck me that just as more and more youngsters are apparently starting primary school without being toilet-trained or able to speak more than a handful of baby words, an increasing number of students are turning up at University without the ability to even cross the road, much though you learn to expect (in my line of work) many won't be able to make toast without activating the fire alarm or use the washing machine without an engineer being required to mop up the aftermath.

I then mused whether Society is in effect, going backwards, possibly trailing evolution not far behind in its wake.

My thoughts turned to the poor and dare I say, increasingly haggard-looking, parents re-mortgaging their homes in order to afford to send their offspring to University, particularly in a recession, only to risk their investment being run over and all that money wasted for want of a Green Cross Code man.

Perhaps Freshers' Week needs to become 'Basic Lifeskills' week rather than an orgy of mindless drinking and pointless dungeon and dragon societies.

If this makes me a killjoy, how much less fun if joy ends up on a slab because it isn't capable of assuming even the slightest young adult responsiblity for itself, whether through 'whatever' lackadaisical nature or a negligent lack of parental nuture.

If only history were still taught, more youngsters might realise how hard many of their predecessors once fought to be educated and then to vote and how the powers that be were terrified of the idea of educated voting peasantry and working classes, contriving accordingly to keep them ignorant and therefore controllable for as long as possible.

They would then also know that religion and cheap drink were historically employed as opiates for the masses, where bread and circuses proved insufficient. Now religion has lost it hold, bread and circuses are passe and drink has become even cheaper and available 24/7, to be joined by drug highs for less than the cost of a cappucino. Worse still, acting dumbly and bragging about it has become fashionable, and even aspirational behaviour.

How reassuring it would be to see a 'Wake Up And Smell The Coffee Dudes! Society' at next year's Freshers' Fair.

Meanwhile I might look into whether there is such a thing as a 'student chaser' available to bolt onto the front of the car. Or invent one, if there isn't.


Steve said...

Totally agree - I've long thought that some kind of basic life skills course would benefit all young teens in seondary education - how to open a bank account, how to manage your own finances, how to change a plug, a light bulb, make your own bed and wash your own clothes... something akin to what Ray Mears does but based around home economics... seriously, this would benefit the nation in years to come. Including the politicians of the future...

Nota Bene said...

Can't help but totally agree. Mind you I'm of the opinion that in some cases perhaps a few fewer students wouldn't be a bad thing (joke, poor taste).

Geoff said...

Apparently David Cameron almost got hit by a tram this week.

Didn't he go to Oxford?

Stephen said...

I would have benefited from some life skill classes when I left school. Arguably, I still could. Practical skills are needed at first, but a different set are required to deal with life this close to 40...

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh yes, some of them are hopeless. Do you see the ones on a bike who've obviously never been on once since they first learnt to ride without stabilisers.

But I think most of the problem is with the parenting. The parents protect their little darlings and expose them to no risks and then the minute they cannot be there for them anymore the poor things have no flipping idea. Probably mummy was still holding their hands as they crossed the roads to get to the exam hall to sit their A Levels. Well actually she prob drove her 4X4 onto the pavement outside the door to the exam hall and pushed him out to sit the exam.

Owen said...

I like the idea of "student pushers" for cars, sort of like there were cow-catchers on old locomotives, big great cast-iron affairs... I am appalled these days when I hear that the national sport in France for highschool age kids has become binge drinking. Am starting to hear horror stories from parents of kids just a little older than ours... scares the bejeesus out of me in fact... but how to prevent it ?

Wisewebwoman said...

I find a more cheerful way to look at this would be to apply the Darwin principal, we can at least be grateful that the progeny of such inepts will not see the light of day.

The Sagittarian said...

Every morning as I take my little darling to school (on the other side of town from us), we drive past a high school where every morning the teenagers cross the road wherever they like completely disregarding the crossing (with traffic lights) situated right in front of their 'learning institution"...what the hell are they learning? You have raised some good points here Laura.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

They used to have a school bank and a school business when I was at school Steve - we even had 'gasp' Domestic Science where cooking and household tips were taught, with a Childcare option. And that was on top of Maths, English, History and all the usual. Who knows what they're being taught now?

NotaBene. Since students pay my salary, I'm afraid I would have to opt to teach them road sense before agreeing!

Geoff, well I must say David Cameron is not the politician on whose grave I would dance the most frenziedly, much though he has his own hyprocrisies, particularly where transport is concerned.

Stephen, well enough life skills to get through the first ten years would have gone a long way in my case particularly when it came to the world of work and how to survive it. And boys and how to survive them!

RB - I certainly meet a lot of students virtually emasculated by smother mothers. Boys too! And as you say they are rendered scarcely fit to lift a finger for themselves such is the level of cotton wool they have been wrapped in. And yes lots of wobbly bicycles veering all over the road. I trust you are making sure your brood can all iron, cook and tidy their own rooms before kicking them out the nest and inflicting them onto an unsuspecting world! They may protest to start with but they will thank you in due course, I promise! And their future partners will definitely have a big kiss waiting for you!

Binge drinking in France Owen? I thought the French were supposed to be the sensible sophisticated ones where drink was concerned. I am disappointed if not. Though I suppose you can talk your brood out of participating by pointing out joining the sheep is not where rebellion lies if they have a brain of their own. To anyone worth saving my advice is 'Any idiot can drink. It doesn't take any talent. But drinking can certainly steal talent. And love money and everything else worth having such as health.'

As I said to Notabene, sadly these would-be Darwin theory provers pay my salary.

Sagittarian - I am sure your brood dare not put a foot wrong! In the nicest possible way. And mis-treatment of roads is such a foolish way of putting a foot wrong!

Dan said...

Smother mother - wonderful phrase, not heard that one before!