Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You Can Fool the Children of the Reality Revolution

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You Can Fool the Children of the Reality Revolution

Article excerpt


Child of Our Time BBC1

WHEN we have stopped analysing ourselves virtually out of existence, we turnour attention to poor little children who have done nothing to deserve it.

Child Of Our Time (BBC1) is now into its seventh series and has been observinga group of children over the years since they were born in the year of themillennium. The first episode of the new series was rather ominously entitledWill To Win. These children, we should remind ourselves, are only seven yearsold.

They come from a variety of backgrounds, thus giving scope for a great deal ofsociologising.

William, for example, is a pampered kid. He goes to a private school, takesFrench lessons and is being given tennis coaching.

We know that he has a will to win because while watching England lose toPortugal in the last World Cup, he changes sides after the decisive penaltyshoot-out so as to identify himself with the winners. He also cleans up atevery event at his school's sports day. He is, in short, a cocky little bugger.

James is from the other side of the tracks. He lives with his single-parent mumon a south London estate. James's mother is trying out yet another new man andhoping for the best. When James is asked what he wants to be, he replies, "arobber". James is, if nothing else, consistent.

When asked what he would do if he found a wallet or purse, he says "take it".Where? "Home." The implication is that William is destined to go places, whileJames will, in all likelihood, end up in prison. I use the word implication,because if any conclusions were drawn from this exercise, I did not catch them.

Instead, a lot of information was painstakingly divulged, all of it comingunder the general heading of self-evident. A boy from a well-to-do home withto put it mildlysupportive parents is more likely to excel in life than one from anunderprivileged background whose mum is loving but feckless.

Then there was poor Eve, the child of staunch Christians. Her father was aboutto go into hospital to donate a kidney to his desperately ailing brother. Evewas terribly upset about this and, as a result, she consistently underperformedin a series of very silly tests. She was on the verge of tears the whole timeand it might have been better to have excluded her from the whole process onthe basis that all she was demonstrating was that children who love theirparents go into a sharp decline when there is a possibility that they may notsee one of them again.

The master of ceremonies was Robert Winston, whose moustache is a thing ofunusual luxuriance. He eagerly commentated upon these tests "including onedesigned to measure stress levels!" but was vague about exactly what they weremeant 'A lot of information painstakingly divulged, coming under generalheading self-evident. …

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