Life is not just one big holiday

20th January 2006 at 00:00
There is a boy in my school we call Ricky Holiday. It is not his real name of course. But it is as good as any other because it tells you everything you need to know about him. He is always going away on holiday.

Dad has his own business and the family are better off than most of the others in our catchment area. His success is based upon animal cunning and physical strength, his mastery of the brutal world of the building site yielding generous rewards.

The family sees little value in education. Why should they? They have succeeded without it. So they take Ricky out of school as much as they can.

There is no continuity in his studies. How can there be? But that does not matter. Material things are all that matter. These are not accessed through learning.

We cannot wash our hands of him but we have nothing that he wants. His horizons have closed down and his understanding of human nature is based on nothing more than power and fear. A boy constructed on the building site, groomed to follow his father's example.

I would not describe Ricky as a problem but he respects nothing that we do.

He has no interest in anything outside his own limited world. And the irony is that he travels to countries that he knows nothing about and brings nothing back with him. The entire experience is wasted.

In between holidays, he comes to school because he has to and will leave as soon as he can. We try to engage him but it is a losing battle. It is a shame, a denial of his potential. But a school can do little to affect the choices that have been made. We cannot compete with the easy sunshine.

There seems to be no incentive for him to develop any skills.

But there has to be more to the concept of school. It cannot only be about money. It must be about personal growth and development. That is why teachers try to enrich his life, even if he does not want it.

You hope that he will be happy, because the choices made will haunt him if he does not prosper. He will not be able to turn the clock back and recapture these years that he was told were so unimportant.

When I get up in these dark cold winter mornings, there is part of me that envies Ricky's winter sunshine. But in every other respect he has been sold a lie. One day reality will slap him in the face like an errant scaffolding pole.

Ian Roe is a teacher in north Wales

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