Yesterday, at the final session of a parenting course I’ve been co-running, one of the parents stated that the best thing she’s done as a result of the course is to slow down a little. This afternoon, I listened to one of the many fine tributes given to Sir Terry Wogan after his death this week, and I was reminded again of this virtue – slowing down a little, taking time to appreciate, leaving space to think and to put the right things at the top of the priority list. Apparently Sir Terry was very good at this.
So, it’s a bit of a cheat for my first post for RollTheRock because I actually wrote this back in 2014. However, it seems apt to return to it today…
The debate over longer school hours and testing at 4 has been a hot topic in recent times. While the adults argue it out in Whitehall and via social media, our young people are grappling with the things of relationships, social groupings, what to wear, what not to wear, hormones, growing up, growing out, peer pressure, homework, parents, exams, bullies, GCSE choices, A-Level Choices, University Choices, career choices, extra-curricular choices and what to do on Saturday night.
For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.” Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28)
Limited resources and an unfortunate mirroring of the adult world mean that there is increasing pressure for youth work provision to be targeted and quantifiably justified. But what if, for just two hours a week, there was a space where our young people weren’t disempowered, but weren’t actively “empowered” either; weren’t neglected, but equally weren’t bombarded with schedules; weren’t left in ignorance, but neither were subject to the latest training programme, short course or issue-based discussion? What if there was space for them to get bored, flirt with each other, occasionally argue with each other, text each other when they’re only two metres apart, discuss music with each other, hit the shuttlecock into the roof recess (again!), share secrets in the farthest and darkest corner of the hall?
What if we gave them a safe space just to be?
When our young people are being forced to follow us into our world of pressure, stress and “I’m far too busy”, would that be so bad?