Returning from walking the Camino, and returning to the world of 24-hour news, which I’ve avoided for four weeks, I’m struck by the intensity, the ranting, that accompanies so much political discourse. That’s hardly surprising. One reason for being away so long was to point up that contrast between the every day, as we experience it, and the ordinary day – the day that we might enjoy if only we learnt to stand still awhile, take in the dawn and the passage of the sun and the clouds across the sky, to take in a deep breath, and keep breathing.
The ordinary day as I describe it would for many be an extraordinary day. ‘Life isn’t like that.’ But it is the real life of all history. It is we who are fooled.
I’ve long experience of working with children and schools, as a parent, a school governor and, a little while back (and hugely enjoyably) as a cricket coach. Positive messages, focus on opportunity, on working together, on compassion for others and understanding of our natural environment, that’s what we try and inculcate, along with the hard facts and great ideas and practical skills….
And yet beyond the school gate there’s the TV news and the newspapers, ranting, focusing on personalities and often irrelevant detail, resorting to preconceptions and prejudice at the earliest opportunity. If school is about the getting of wisdom, everyday life for kids is an all-too-rapid getting of unwisdom. As parents, the press and people everyday are perceived to behave – so the world tells them should they, our children, and there’s little that the finest teacher can do about what happens beyond the school gate.
(I’m not overlooking all the negative impacts of politically-driven expectations on schools, children and teachers. But schools remain remarkable places, and teachers, so many of them, no less remarkable.)
Walking the Camino I’m aware how many young people have held on to that wisdom of childhood, and built on it. I walk with optimism. Returning, I’m reminded of realities.
But I’ve not lost my optimism. This blog isn’t will never be a tabloid-style retreat and rant against the world. It is about engagement and purpose, focusing on the simple things, and doing them well.