Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lessons in Respect Are Far More Important Than Double Maths; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lessons in Respect Are Far More Important Than Double Maths; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Gutteridge

IZZY is already proficient in maths and English. Actually, that's a slight exaggeration. To be precise, she can count to 16 (when climbing the stairs to bed) and, when asked her age, replies "I'm two" before pausing and adding "and a half".

Although that's about the only evidence of her prodigy, Jo and I are, as you can imagine, typical proud parents, glowing happily when others say how bright she is.

Long may it last. In just four weeks, she will enter Britain's educational system via the nursery class at our local State school. From then, we'll be trusting teachers to help deliver her into adulthood both literate and numerate.

If Carol Vorderman has her way, she will be learning numbers until she is 18. And, if I have my way, she will be writing her first novel at 12. And a half.

The events of the past week have turned the political spotlight onto how we bring up our children: 11-year-olds running amok on our streets, arms These are full of stolen trainers and iPhones, gangs of teenagers throwing missiles at unarmed policemen. Where have we gone wrong? values that will underpin in our society It's easy to blame parents and schools. I bet you a pair of Nikes that most of the parents of the delinquents in the news wouldn't understand the first concept of responsible parenting, because they themselves were denied it.

What boiled over onto the streets of Hackney and Croydon is the product of mistakes by successive generations - not just politicians, educationalists but ourselves - for voting in governments that have done nothing to change the way our society rears its children.

Sadly, for the young people going through the courts, it's probably too late.

We can beat sticks and apply sticking plasters to cover the mistakes of the past, but it'll be a tough haul to transform the entire Big Brother/X-Factor/National Lottery generation, where fame and fortune come to the lucky and the loud (or to the dishonest), rather than to those who work hard and respect others. …

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