Tag Archives: education

The Right to Rule

Have you ever been on a website and had one of those pop-up mini surveys appear, asking you to vote for your favourite car or food, most attractive celebrity or some other completely random thing?
We can vote about so many different things online and make our voices heard in the most obscure areas.

And yet a lot of people I know have chosen not to vote for actually really important things- such as who gets the power over our country. (Yep, that is what this is about.)

Their reason is: ‘Politicians have broken my trust so many times that I don’t feel I can vote for them anymore. Besides, politics doesn’t interest me.’

Now, I am not about to try and guilt-trip anybody into voting. Woe betides that. Free choice is free choice and besides, that would be unhelpful.

What I am going to do is explain why I think voting is the most awesome thing. I’m also going to try not to be boring about it. Let me remind you that I am only just of a voting age myself, and don’t really have the knowledge or the concentration to go all long-winded about things.

So what’s supposedly cool about voting? Continue reading The Right to Rule

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Jingo

‘As two armies march, Commander Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch face unpleasant foes who are out to get him… and that’s just the people on his side. The enemy might be even worse. Jingo (…) makes the World Cup look like a friendly five-a-side.’

My first book review is about Jingo because I have very particular memories connected to this one.
I first read it when I was twelve, curled up on the sofa, and I didn’t get any of the (fairly scant) dirty jokes. When I read it again just a year later, I was delighted to see how much more of them I noticed were there, let alone understood. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing- almost certainly not, but there you go.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, in case you haven’t heard of it, is absolute genius. I haven’t read it in anything like chronological order, having started with Jingo as the twenty-first of them, but as they are all mad anyway it doesn’t really matter.

The book starts with an island called Leshp rising unexpectedly from the depths of the Circle Sea. The problems start when the two large, opposing nations on the shores of the Sea (Ankh-Morpork and Klatch) realise how strategically marvellous the island is, remember ancient feuds against each other and decide to go to war. The Discworld being the Discworld, hilarity ensues. However, Terry Pratchett being Terry Pratchett, it’s not pure comedy, but also a satirical and very, very clever view on issues such as human error, politics and racism.

I think the main reason why I like the book, and all of its series, is that it’s so hilariously clever. There is probably not one single sentence in the entire book without a joke in there somewhere. Yet after reading it, you sit back and think. I wish that everybody I have ever heard make comments about ‘foreign people’ of the ‘Why don’t they go back where they came from?’ kind would pick up this books and give it a good read.

The dialogue sparkles, the characters are as colourful and diverse as a tub of Liquorice Allsorts, and there are so many real-world political, historical and literary references littering those pages that I regularly find myself sitting up suddenly straight during lessons at school, thinking: ‘So THAT’S where he got it from!’ Some of my friends and even teachers have caught on to this and will nod sympathetically, saying ‘Pratchett again?’

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book, and that’s the highest praise I can give. The author has been battling Alzheimer’s for several years, but, incredibly, is still writing. He has won countless awards and been knighted for his literary achievements.

So kudos to you for your genius, Mr Pratchett, and I thank you for hours of joy.

If you want to buy Jingo, you can get it here.

The Power of Potential

Absolutely everybody has at least one thing they really enjoy and are good at. I am convinced of this.

But we have a problem, as a planet and as societies. So often, these skills go unused.
And yet they are so diverse and so potentially life-changing.

I love reading, writing, learning about history, languages, philosophy and how societies work. I have been able to speak in a national parliament and be on TV. I have been really, really lucky.

My brother doesn’t like learning about those things, but give him a change to learn more about how to make Hobbit houses on Minecraft or create intricate cardboard replicas of World War Two planes, and he will invest a lot of time, energy and brain space in getting it perfect. He can draw to a level that has won him many art contests and gained him an enviable playground reputation (he sells the WWII planes and comic drawings to his school friends, for instance). But his difficulties with school work and tests mean that art school can’t happen for him, and he is at a loss as to what he should do when school finishes.

We all have things we like to do and things we like to learn more about. But we can’t always do anything with them.

But what do our skills have to do with anything? Especially the things I blog about? Continue reading The Power of Potential