BB's Glyn didn't miss a bleat

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
It is so easy to criticise teenagers. Awful clothes, awful music, clueless, pimply, rude, lazy. Curmudgeons have railed like this for 50 years. Now we can blame the kids for lack of meaningful ambition - they want to be famous for being famous.

Careers Wales has found that the proportion of 17-year-olds going on the dole rather than taking up unglamorous jobs or staying on in education is at its highest for eight years. And some pundits think they are holding out for easy fame through reality TV and other routes which demand no qualifications or special skills. And proof, if it were needed, that both teens and pundits are right comes in the form of sixth-former Glyn Wise, of Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, who is forgoing some of his A-level exams for a stint in the Big Brother house.

This career move is unlikely to harm the engaging 18-year-old head-boy's future options, especially if he sits his exams in due course. But he has been exceptionally lucky, and it should be noted that Glyn was in school at age 17; he was not one of the 2,634 school-leavers not in full-time work, training or education. What about them?

Welsh teacher-union leaders say there is a more serious problem behind teenagers' starry-eyed dreams. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds do not believe they will be able to get on the career ladder, and see opportunities such as winning the lottery as their only way. "We need role models closer to home," says Philip Dixon, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru. "We need them to aspire to be the plumbers who are making good money and driving a fast car."

Is he dreaming, too? Let us hope not. Most young people know the difference between real life and reality TV. So when they woke up the TV house with the sound of sheep's baa-ing, Glyn was alert to the danger. It was just people pretending to be sheep, he said.

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