Insight and inspiration

I have slowed down considerably, to say the least, but the fire in the mind still lights my world. And reading, the daily wonder of reading, supplies fuel in abundance.

 

  • I am astonished, and disheartened, how constitutional reform in Guyana so easily slips down the agenda of vital things to be done. Oppositions shout about it being a priority and then become governments and lose all enthusiasm for it. I read the words of the eminent Oxford historian Lionel Curtis (1872-1955) and clearly see why this is bound to happen:

“All systems become sacred in the eyes of those who control the mechanism. They tend to lose sight of the end for which the system exists, and the system becomes an end in itself. To any drastic changes in such systems the most resolute opposition usually comes from those who control them.”

Exactly. “Now I am in charge I don’t want to change a thing.” But I wouldn’t have thought that would apply to the AFC.

 

  • So much is wrong with our educational system one hardly knows where to start. The following taken from a recent letter in the Economist by Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education Adviser of TES Global, gives a good insight into how distant we are from adapting our schools to the modern world:

“As important as ‘equipping people to stay ahead of technological change’ is, we also need an attitudinal change in our schools. We tend to think of schools as places where teachers impart knowledge to students, whose capacity for memorization and repetition is rigorously tested. Now that we can search Google in a moment, these skills are no longer necessary. Children need to retain a basic framework of conceptual knowledge, but the detail can be recalled from computers.

“We need to rethink our approach to schooling and understand that we are now educating for humanity. Creativity, empathy and leadership should be nurtured, equipping people with the skills set to start a business, lead a team and approach problems creatively. Exams must adapt to a new reality by allowing the use of the internet in order to test thinking rather than recall.

“Before the workers of the future can take advantage of learning resources, schools should focus on what gives us an advantage over robots; our ability to create, think strategically, communicate with others and demand change.”

Educating for thought not recall – when will we get around to that?

 

  • Not only reading keeps the aging mind refreshed. As I grow older grandchildren are a wonder and a joy – Jacob, aged 5, and Zoey, aged 3. What a delight to help a little in caring for them and to follow their lives with abundant love – but not have the ultimate responsibility and anxieties of parents! Jacob, noticing the wonders and puzzles of the world so acutely with his questions which philosophers have not answered in a thousand years – “What happened to yesterday?” “Where am I in me?” “Are shadows real?” and I hug him to my heart and I try to answer. And Zoey, immeasurably beautiful and lively, vivid as a shooting star – and I think of Philip Larkin’s poem about a friend’s little daughter and it is a good poem and I know what he means about wanting her happiness:

 

May you be ordinary,

Have, like other women,

An average of talents:

Not ugly, not good-looking,

Nothing uncustomary

To pull you off your balance,

That, unworkable itself,

Stops all the rest from working.

In fact, may you be dull –

If that is what a skilled,

Vigilant, flexible,

Unemphasised, enthralled

Catching of happiness is called.

But I cannot agree that poem for Zoey. No, she will be incomparably beautiful and she will be intrepid and she will be exceptional and she will make a festival of her life and the lives of others like no other little girl who ever lived!

And may both of them grow up to sample to their hearts’ content what a friend of mine appropriately calls the “brimfulness of life.”

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