Well, there seems to be something of a consensus that the parties of the left should get their act together and collaborate to defeat Theresa May. Here is a link to the estimable Paul Mason on that subject. An eminently sensible man, from the North of course, he should be read and listened to by politicians! That's all I have to say on the matter for the time being.
The results of a recent survey show that British teenagers are amongst the most competitive but also the most likely to be bullied.
"British teenagers are highly motivated about their school work, but are more anxious, more likely to be bullied and are less satisfied with life than many of their peers elsewhere in the world, according to a survey.
Almost a quarter of British pupils who took part in the poll say they are being bullied a few times a month, while more than 14% say they are bullied frequently, making the UK the fourth worst affected of all 34 countries surveyed.
Anxiety levels are also high in British classrooms with seven out of 10 pupils (72%) admitting they feel anxious before taking a test, even if they are well prepared – the third highest in the survey. Girls are particularly badly affected, with 81% reporting anxiety before exams, compared with 63% of boys."
In a way, I suppose the bullying goes along with being competitive. Pushing others around is a way of establishing your own superiority. But why are our youngsters like this? Do we not praise them and love them enough, so that they have low self esteem and need to take it out on others? Or is it a product of all the testing?
That last is a tricky one. Throughout my school life - not so much in the infant school but certainly in junior school and in secondary school - we had internal exams twice a year and as we got the results of the exams, worked out our average marks and our position in class, which went on your school report. My girls' grammar school, emulating public schools with its house system involving house sports teams and house drama and public speaking competitions, had "mark readings" where the headmistress went through the exam results of each girl in the class, praising the "honours" (results over 75%) and expressing dismay at the "failures" (marks below 40%). Somehow your best successes (Modern Languages and English in my case) were cancelled out by your inadequacies, even if only one subject (Music). I always felt sorry for the poor girls at the bottom of the class who "failed" three or more subjects. And we were already the crème de la crème, the grammar school girls, selected at age eleven to be the ones to succeed!
And yet mostly we didn't bully each other. I suppose it must have gone on to some extent; I make no claims for us being the perfect generation. And of course there were cliques and certain groups who were more popular than others and so on. And yet, mostly we just got on and little was heard of bullying, apart from a general opinion that the PE teacher was a real bully!
Maybe it was the size of the school; with only around 600 girls it was possible for the staff to know and keep an eye on everyone much more effectively. Maybe it was just a less pressurised age. Social media was a thing of the future. Women's magazines were aimed at our mothers and teenage magazines were only just making their appearance. Ah! The age of innocence!
And now the pressure is certainly there, and especially, it seems, on the girls:
"Obesity is higher among boys, yet girls were more likely to think they were fat, with a quarter of 15-year-old girls being on a diet. In England, 50% of girls and 25% of boys were concerned they were too fat, higher than the international average of 43% for girls and 22% for boys. In Scotland, 55% of girls and 27% of boys said they were too fat, compared with 52% of girls and 30% of boys in Wales."
That last comes from an article about levels of satisfaction among teenagers.
Maybe we just concentrate too much on the competitive elements of society, inspecting everything to within an inch of its life. A journalist called Patrick Barkham was writing about children being allowed to run free and had this to say about nursery schools:
"My three-year-old spent the holidays getting misty-eyed about his forest school nursery. And so he should. When I interviewed several innovative outdoor nurseries a few years ago, I found teachers frustrated by Ofsted withholding “outstanding” ratings. One nursery was informed that its children didn’t have enough IT opportunities."
Really? Nursery children who did not have "enough IT opportunities"? Whatever next?
He did go on to mention improvements: "Perhaps now Ofsted inspectors are learning, because his nursery has just been judged "outstanding in all areas."
So change is possible!