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Ted's talking points

Most people have been to a fairground and they can soon lose their appeal when childhood is left behind, but they have been around a long time, so is there something magic about them?

For Fairgrounds are great places for whole families as well as single people. There are many attractions for all ages, such as the thrill of rides that are scary but safe, traditional favourites such as roundabouts, and sidestalls where you can win prizes. People's faces tell you they're enjoying themselves, a great antidote to stress. They're colourful and noisy, but a lot offun.

Against Small children may find funfairs magic, but in reality they are pretty squalid. The rides were fun years ago, in simpler times, today they are just old-fashioned. Some rather undesirable characters hang around fairgrounds, especially at night. The food is terrible: inedible hotdogs and candyfloss. The so-called prizes are not worth winning: tatty toys that end up in the bin. And, when the fair moves on, good parkland has been turned to mud.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter march 17 2000 TES FRIDAY

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