Pushy Parents

Pushy Parents;
In discussing the negative image of parents who push their child, and the child’s teacher;what no one has talked about is the possibility of a zero sum game here.

When any parent asks for more help with homework, or more of any kind of help from their teacher, this can result in less time for the other 20 or more children. Where class sizes are smaller in fee paying schools, the zero sum game has less effect. Indeed, smaller class sizes is one of the most important things one is paying for.

Where class sizes are larger, and they can be in state schools, the effect is greater. The worst scenario is when two classes are put into one, in a crisis.

Realism in parents includes an awareness of all this. Of course one can now argue that any help given by a parent at home does not have this effect, as there are no other children present. But even here there is a problem. Not all parents have the time, the inclination, the ability to help their own children at home. Indeed some research has shown that some few parents have had such a bad experience at their schools that they undermine the school to their own children. Realism required again.

None of this is to suggest that parents should not do all they can for their own child. The really tricky thing is to work out how the positive effects on their own child can help others in the classroom.

So, what to do? Are there experts out there who have considered this problem? I cannot help!

Demonising the Unemployed.

The new Business Secretary wants the unemployed to get on their bikes.

Looking a little harder for scarce jobs in ones own area of Britain has a ring of moral goodness about it.

Who can object to an individual making more of an effort? Well one objection is that when one tries harder and still fails to find employment; this can have negative effects on all future trying. Another objection is that all the focus on trying is on the applicant. What about the future employer? Is there not more effort required here?

Another aspect of this moralising language is the unstated implication of laziness. This slur prepares the way for future penalties, which are more likely to be accepted by the public once the slur has been made!

Another Winter of Discontent?

The government is due to present the detail of the cuts this week. But a variety of press leaks has produced a series of cries of opposition, and planned demonstrations from those who fear worse working conditions; or even job losses.

The TUC is particularly concerned with job loss in the defense industries, including jobs in Scotland. The Fire Brigade fears cuts to pay, pensions and hours of working. Unite, one of Britain’s largest unions is to demonstrate outside the House of Commons tomorrow. They are also concerned about defense cuts. London Underground had 5 trains trapped on the Jubilee line today, due to power failures. This is against a background of recent strikes; and planned future strikes. Royal Mail workers fear the effects of privatization. They argue that this could be the end of a “universal” service; meaning a single price for all destinations in Britain. There is also a large pension deficit.

These examples could be added to. But are they enough to bring another winter of discontent? The earlier winters were in 1973/4 and 78/9. The first date produced a 3 day week and an election over “Who rules Britain”? The Conservatives lost this election to Labour. The second date is remembered for pay freezes, and the return of the Conservatives to power. What both dates had in common was a near universal effect on the economy. There were widespread strikes over most industries. Governments appeared unstable.

Today’s approaching winter is different. We have a new government, as yet untested. The effect of the cuts is not universal. Rather it is seen as disproportionately affecting public sector workers. Some bank workers are now in the public sector, and rightly fear for their jobs as many have already been cut. Private sector bank workers are also affected; but not those at the top. All this is far from universal.