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Archive for August, 2012

The Olympic Balancing Beam

As schools start back it will be interesting to see what is talked about in assemblies in class and in staff rooms. The triumph that was London 2012 is still fresh in all our memories and it surely outweighs any interest in exam results or league tables. Could those wonderful Olympics be a pointer to a more balanced education system and in turn a more balanced society?

The positive feeling that London 2012 left for the citizens of the UK and the positive light it left Britain in around the world did not come from exam results but from brilliant sporting achievement, wonderful creativity and good old fashioned hospitality. Sport, creativity, socialising and an exploration and welcoming of world cultures are fun and life enhancing for most of us and we have proved that we are a modern nation that can celebrate the many races that now “race” for these islands.

Many of us feel that London 2012 was the best thing that has happened to Great Britain in our lifetime. So much of the feel good factor was gifted to us from sectors of society that can very easily be pigeonholed and pushed aside. It is increasingly understood that creative thinking can often come from those that schools consider disruptive. And there are studies showing that the percentage of young people in further education with dyslexia is far higher in the art and design sectors. Like many, I have firsthand experience of a questioning mind being linked to being disruptive and in turn being classed as “a bit thick”. The attitude “He’s a trouble maker, stick him in the art class “is still out there. But if one of the main points of design is to improve things that matter in life , and if one of the main roles of the artist is to “question” then why, on the whole, does education repeatedly fail to understand and celebrate “disruptive creativity”.  Danny Boyle masterminded the most memorable of opening ceremonies. This is a guy who brought us the challenging film Trainspotting. A friend of mine, David Arnold was the musical director for the closing ceremony. With David’s approach to creativity, no wonder the close of London 2012 will be remembered for being anarchic and bonkers.

At London 2012 Michael Phelps set o record of 19 Olympic medals, a record that many say will never be beaten.  Michael Phelps is one of a number of sports stars diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Experts believe that sport can give those with ADHD immediate rewards in a life where they are used to being punished for their behaviour. Even before the wonderfully supported Paralympics got under way, we celebrated and cheered , “the bionic runner”, Oscar Pistorious competing with able bodied runners. The fact that this determined, talented and engaging young man is the second highest earning athlete in the world speaks volumes for an increasingly evolved society.

At London 2012 we showed ourselves how wonderfully multicultural we are. The Mo Farah story is just magical. Coming to Britain from Somalia as a refugee when he was 8 and 21 years later becoming a national hero should do heaps to shut up the anti-immigration brigade. Add to that the beautiful, intelligent, mixed race athlete Jessica Ennis, who will surely inspire a whole generation of young women and maybe start to tempt a few away from wanting to emulate reality TV “celebrity” airheads.

So could, sorry how  should, this impact on a more balanced  education system. The current UK government seems to have been obsessed with performance in Maths , English and Science at the expense of sport, art and design. A third of GB’s Olympic medals came from sportsmen and women who went through the private school system (which accounts for a mere 7% of all school children). A similar imbalance exists in students attending arts and design further education.

Sport and creativity makes so many of us happy and this summer has shown how it can “lift” and entire nation. It’s time to get the balance right.

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