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Village and Vale

By Blackmore Vale Magazine  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

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ONE of the great questions of the early 21st century is how we bring up our children ... it was ever so, but there seems to be even fiercer debates these days.

As any grandparent will know, by the time your children have children of their own their certainties (and often fashionably peculiar ideas) can make you question how the human race ever continued so long without their new-found "wisdom."

We are increasingly deluged with stuff about children's "rights" and horror stories from across the Pond about children "divorcing" their parents for not letting them eat what they want, watch what they want or go out when they want.

Teachers complain that they have less and less time to teach as the red tape surrounding curriculums means increasing box ticking and form filling.

Pre-school and primary school teachers report that they are supposed not only to teach basic alphabet and counting but also how to hold a knife, fork and spoon and even simple potty training.

Rights are all important, but it often seems that it 's oppressive to link them to responsibilities. Discipline is old hat, and punishing children (by withdrawal of privileges, or simply getting them to sit still in one place) is akin to torture and sadistic intolerance. Aarghh - I really AM getting old.

But you have to question what sort of message we think we are sending to our children by paying vast bonuses to people who fail at jobs.

For years it has seemed that exams are not about passing or failing and that everyone must be a winner. But do we not think that by the time we "grow up" and take an adult job, we are supposed to be capable of doing it, and if we are found wanting, we no longer have the chance to do it.

What is happening to the world where the CEOs of international banks whose lack of attention, bad leadership and general ineptitude not only causes internal financial chaos but forces the taxpayer (that's you and me!) to cough up vast sums in an effort to stem the flood that might bring other multinational edifices tumbling alongside. Then that same CEO gets a "failure bonus" larger than many of us might earn in a hardworking lifetime.

The Savile debacle will raise painful and awkward questions, as those charged with investigating back over decades must sort the real victims from the bandwagon jumpers. Pointing the finger at current BBC employees who were children when it all started is more an example of the blame and compensation culture than a realistic effort to find out what really happened.

But surely ... SURELY ... those in control of the flagship international broadcasting company, at what everyone can see is a particularly sensitive time, must take responsibility for what is happening now, and, if they get it wrong, fall on their swords without expecting a sack of gold on their backs.

When we were young there were all sorts of certainties, like investing in property always making money and professional jobs being safe as long as you wanted to do them. Now the only real certainty is death - though we might be able to put that back for decades by judicious drinking of red wine and swallowing of this superfood or that magic berry, (depending which week you read the research).

We need better service. We need more effective legislation resulting from more rigorous drafting of the law. We need more compassion and kindness and less gratuitous rudeness and insults on social networking forums like Facebook (a potential tool of the Devil devised by someone who dislikes people and wanted to get at an unwilling girlfriend.)

All those things require a return to standards that reward hard work and encourage people to believe that they should get things right. When I was a very small child my parents took me to Devon, and we parked on the hill in Honiton. A woman got into a car in front of us and backed, hard, into my father's car. Before he had time to get out, another woman emerged from the florist outside which we were parked and presented the denter with a bunch of flowers (it was her birthday). I thought for many years that you got a prize if you bumped someone's car. I was wrong ... or was I?

Gay Pirrie-Weir

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