We get respect we deserve

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
In Any Questions? on Radio 4 on May 20, Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, discussing Tony Blair's latest watchword, made the point that respect is mutual and that we don't listen to young people.

One of the chief ills of our education system is that no one is interested in the desires and aspirations of young people. Their schooling is imposed upon them.

In a society bred on freedom and the value of the individual a rigid, disciplinarian, prescriptive system is never likely to attract respect from young people. Too often we demand that they follow not their path but the path we lay down for them. Where's the respect there?

It would be more logical, and far less painful, simply to provide them with the opportunities and cater for their ambitions and needs, for they all have them and they are as wide as life itself.

The continued forcing of learning on often unwilling minds is not only increasingly impractical but morally questionable. Moreover it is a recipe for the discord we get in every school every day.

The world of education can no longer demand respect. Respect can only be earned once people value what they are being offered and those that are offering it.

AJ Marsden 9 Chester Drive Ramsbottom, Bury, Lancs

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