The parents’ evening that almost blew my mind – Dad’s Diary

Computer Science - a subject never available to Simon, due to a lack of computers.
Computer Science - a subject never available to Simon, due to a lack of computers.

How clued up is your Millennial on Brexit? I asked Ellen, 15, en route to an equestrianism event she was taking part in at the weekend.

‘I have absolutely no idea,’ she replied to my question while taking a pouting selfie at the same time to upload to Snapchat.

‘But have any of your teachers talked about it in school?’

‘Yes’.

‘And what did they tell you?’

‘I have absolutely no clue.’

‘So it’s not worth asking you for your thoughts on the Irish backstop, then?’

‘Daaaaaaaad, can’t you see I’m trying to take a pouting selfie …?’

It turns out that only briefly have any of Ellen’s teachers attempted to lob the ‘B’ word into lessons.

In a way, I can’t blame them. I know many adults who wouldn’t have much of a clue about the Backstop, so why should teenagers know the ins and outs?

And I don’t ever recall any of my teachers discussing current affairs back in the ‘80s. We never talked about Irish politics when the IRA attempted to blow the government up at a Brighton hotel in 1984, and I’m fairly confident the intricacies of the miners’ strike were never debated. Either, though, would have been more interesting than double physics.

Times have obviously changed, though, and the curriculum has changed with it.

Ellen has lessons in media studies and sports science – two subjects which never existed in the early ‘80s, more’s the pity.

Ben, meanwhile, is currently studying computer science at BTEC level. Again, that was never a subject open to me. There was a very good reason for that – we didn’t have any computers in school.

My kids find that last fact hard to believe, and it’s easy to see why.

Technology is all they have ever known.

I still remember vividly going to a parents’ evening at Ben and Ellen’s junior school, they were seven and six at the time.

We were shown a PowerPoint presentation that basically said that 80 per cent of the jobs that would be available to our kids when they were 18 hadn’t even been created yet.

The reason why was obvious – technology was merrily skipping along at a furious rate.

‘We have to prepare your kids for jobs that currently don’t exist,’ was the crux of the school’s message.

My mind, if not blown, was certainly altered. I had never thought of it like that before, but of course the PowerPoint presentation was pretty accurate.

Being a teacher has never been easy, but now – in the 21st century – it is harder than ever.

So no wonder they haven’t got time for an in-depth analysis of customs unions and Norway models.


UNSUNG HEROES ... FOR MORE THAN ONE DAY

IT is a scene recreated throughout the land – groups of parents, unsung heroes all, huddled together on a touchline watching their little darlings playing the nation’s favourite sports, football, cricket and rugby.

Some are more unsung than others, however. Spare a thought for us parents whose kids’ sporting prowess centres around a large animal who likes eating Polo mints. Horses.

Last Saturday Ellen and myself left the house at 10.45am and returned at 5.45pm. And of those seven hours, how long did she spend actually competing? Less than 10 minutes.

We had to drive to the stable, groom the horses, load them on to a lorry, drive to the venue (somewhere near Andover), unload them and wait.

And wait, and wait, and wait. There’s a lot of waiting at horse events. And it can be cold and windy, as it was last Saturday.

And sometimes your horse might refuse the first fence three times and you’ll be disqualified. And that means you might have paid a tidy sum to enter a competition and been eliminated without even jumping one fence. A bit like being sent off in football within 30 seconds of the first whistle without touching the ball.

Thankfully, mercifully, that didn’t happen to Ellen. But you always know it could...