I really have lost track of how many weeks it has been, but then it would not really be the first time that I am out of step with the rest of the world.
As I drop behind the rest of the world in some aspects I tell myself that actually, I am a pioneer of the revival, beards are a great example of this, I have never been out of fashion, just thirty years ahead. By this logic, men will all be keeping their hair long after lockdown and I will have to invest in purple jeans with flowers embroidered all the way down the legs like the ones I used to wear.
Maybe the world would be a better place if we all wore flowers in our hair, some of you may think otherwise.
In other aspects we are all at the cutting edge, our childcare is no exception and some of the work that we are doing is, and has always been something that sets the agenda for others to follow.
Last week you will have learned that I have published my children’s story about the virus now with some slight tweaks and a change of title to Heroes of Covid-19."
Heroes of Covid-19
Inspired by one of our wonderful carers and her children we are happy to share with you "Heroes of Covid-19". This book is suitable for all ages and helps young people to express their feelings and discuss their own experiences of Covid-19.
This is a first for me and feels like it is a big risk, for a boy who was late to learn to read and dyslexic even a children’s story seems a bit ambitious and out of step with myself if it is possible to be out of step with yourself.
I guess if I would like to achieve anything by publishing this it would be for you to be able to share with your children, especially those who have missed out on some education that it may take a while but they can triumph and beat the odds.
All our children, even our most educated and brightest will need to have resilience about their prospects if we enter a major recession.
I think that what resilience I have, I developed as a child and it was a by-product of adversity.
All children who overcome adversity have an opportunity to recognise this as a strength, to use the knowledge that they have come so far from a disadvantaged starting point that they have the capacity to harness their resilience and keep going. We have to take the positives from the negative times that they have had and harness them as a force. If they do not do this they become professional victims and remain in a mindset that perpetuates disadvantage.
In a small way, the publication of my story is me still exorcizing my own ghosts, and I hope a positive example to our children.
I was late to learn to read, I think I would be classified as dyslexic now, some teachers said I was stupid, but even as a child I realised that this was their problem and nothing I could not workaround in the long term. My lack of ability in one area probably strengthened my ability in others, practical skills, problem-solving and the ability to work outside of the system have led to where I am now and now I would not trade my background.
Of course as a child perhaps there were times when I would have done so, and this is something that is difficult to convey to our children that one day they will outgrow their disadvantage, and the process of outgrowing it will become a strength.
So when I was invited to write directly to our young people I realised that it was a valid invitation, I framed the invocation as inspiration and wrote what started out as a story for our young people and has become a storybook.
When I saw the story in print the idea of it becoming a published book was so ludicrous and ironic to the child within me that the idea took hold. What could go wrong? A boy who could not read would become an author. Many of our children and young people have missed out on their education and are behind like I was until I learned to read, and the boy who was behind with his education was part of me that wrote the book.
Society hadn’t given me the “right” to publish a book I just assumed it for myself and determined to keep going until either I could go no further or it happened.
I have done this several times in my life, just assumed that I have as much right as anybody else to do something that is outside my comfort zone. It starts off feeling like a bluff and I feel that I will be found out, but actually, on occasions, it has broken down barriers to enable me to do things that my more cautious self would never have even tried.
Sometimes this approach will work and sometime the goal will not be reached, but all of us have the “right” to assume that we can achieve things that would seem to be beyond our reach and to go for them. If we each only achieve some of the things we believe are beyond our reach then it will be a triumph and we can learn from the things we fall short at.
So publishing a story for me may look like a small thing but it was testing the boundaries of what was possible, and what could be achieved.
As adults responsible for the next generation it is our mission to enable all of our young people to have ambition and to achieve success for themselves, and if possible to stretch and extend their thinking to discuss that secret ambition that they believe is beyond the reach of someone like them and to help them achieve that too.
I am not sure how we can do best as individuals or as an organisation to support our young people in the time ahead. Employment opportunities will be difficult and it seems to me that this could develop into something we all need to put thought into. It is not enough to raise our young people into adults and then let them fall flat on their faces.
I am sure that the next few years will represent a major challenge to us all to ensure that our young people educate themselves into a position of employment and opportunities and it will be the next challenge for us all.
I know that you will all rise to it."
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