Tuesday November 1, 2016
The current narrative around helping young people from 'working class' backgrounds is one that we feel can be particularly unhelpful. It seems to ignore areas such as neuroscience and social science and opt, instead, for a simple story of the 'feckless poor' making the wrong life choices.
And anyone who knows anything about this area knows there is more to it than this. Much more.
To put forward an alternative perspective, one we hope will be more useful in moving the debate forward when it comes to genuinely helping young people born into challenging, impoverished and straitened circumstances in this time of 'austerity' (don't get us started on that!), Independent Thinking Associates and the Independent Thinking Press are collaborating on a major new book we are calling The Working Class.
And you can be part of it.
If you feel you have something you want to say to support this alternative narrative - personal history, experience as an educator, social worker, youth worker, researcher, parent, school or community leader or anyone living and/or working in these communities - then we would love to hear from you.
What is your view? What is your experience? What should happen? What could happen? What would really support the life chances of young people? What has worked? What definitely has not worked?
We want this unique book to be honest, challenging, practical and helpful whether the reader is a teacher, a school leader, a policy maker or anyone genuinely interested in helping.
Award-winning author and editor Ian Gilbert, Independent Thinking's founder, will be editing the book and all royalties will be going to support the work of a suitable charity working with young people in poverty in the UK.
If you are interested and think you have something to say, the first step is to drop Ian a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you.
And, in the meantime and to start you thinking, here's what George Orwell had to say on the subject of class and education in The Road to Wigan Pier written in 1937:
"Take the working-class attitude towards ‘education’. How different it is from ours, and how immensely sounder! Working people often have a vague reverence for learning in others, but where ‘education’ touches their own lives they see through it and reject it by a healthy instinct. The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a ‘job’ should descend upon anyone at fourteen. Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography. To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly. The idea of a great big boy of eighteen, who ought to be bringing a pound a week home to his parents, going to school in a ridiculous uniform and even being caned for not doing his lessons! Just fancy a working-class boy of eighteen allowing himself to be caned! He is a man when the other is still a baby."
Here's a Spotify playlist we're putting together to go with the book - enjoy!