Friday, July 23, 2021

HONOURING OUR ANCESTORS

 Commemorating the Day After.

Today, the 23rd of July, was a day of national reckoning for our ancestors in 1298. For this was the day after Wallace’s Scottish Commons Army* suffered a defeat by their national enemy at the Battle of Falkirk on the 22nd July. The English, led by their great king, Edward 1, the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ himself, utilised for the first time the irresistible tactical combination of massed archers (the arrow storm*) followed by an armoured cavalry charge, then infantry to finish off survivors; it was a set-piece battle we had little chance of winning anyway. The scale of this defeat is hard to know, for then, as now, both sides had an interest in spinning the result for advantage, but regardless it was still a solid defeat. Any Scots who did not escape were not offered the option of surrender; no POWs in the 13th century! After the triumph at the Battle of Stirling Bridge the year before, this defeat could have been psychologically crushing and politically breaking.

But it wasn’t. Our ancestors picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and started all over again. And this is why I am writing commemorating this, rather than the battle, which I am happy for our English cousins to celebrate if they wish.

Although the examination of this episode makes fascinating history, it is not my intention to do this here, but just to salute the fortitude of our ancestors on this date in holding fast to their identity and independence, as Scots – for this is how they referred to themselves. Without this belief, which they proved to be true in the profoundest sense, I would not have written this, nor you read it.

And I do this too as a reference to the political and cultural chaos that is encroaching ever nearer to our wee corner, with a reminder that we have in our heritage that stuff which will enable us to ride it out and see it off. We need to remind ourselves of this, as no-one else does.

 Dae richt. Fear nocht.  


  *   The commons army, so named because its command and structure was not dependent on the compromised Scotch nobility and their retinues. In other words, it was the common us!

*    This was no hyperbole. Just doing the simple maths for a comfortable rate of longbow shooting with the probable number of archers easily yields over 100,000  arrows, and it could have been double that! Add the slingshot and crossbow bolts to this banquet of aerial death, and note that most Scotch soldiers were, at best, lightly armoured. The effect of this arrow storm on the packed ranks of Scotch infantry would hardly be less than that of machine guns.

[My Wallace bio covers this topic should you be interested in exploring it further. ]

This is a repost from last year, given the date and the nature of the topic this seems an apt thing to do.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

 

Children’s University


Under a teasing sun warming

behind the classroom glass

the glacier slow drag to term’s end

and then,  just when it seemed that

the final day would never arrive,

it did. Freedom day, best day of the year

 

the start of the summer holidays

and naturally children’s thoughts,

once freed from classwork, turn quickly

to lessons, recording attainment

and graduating, cap and gown

 …from university – at 8 years old!

 

If a child naively thought that they could do children’s things in the summer hols, then they should think again. For here we introduce Children’s University for 5-14 year olds; killing two birds with the one stone; more pressure on our children to ‘achieve’ and that false achievement then celebrated.

Actually, this university is a delusional summer school puffed up by verbiage and an all-smiling, professional website, as is SOP nowadays for anything connected to education. This done without (apparently?) considering the pandemic effect on real childhood experiences and achievements by conflating them with phoney ones, like the C U. Here, after completing the required number of educational units, which have to be diligently recorded (at five years old, ha ha!), children even attend a cap and gown graduation where they get their ‘degree’! No doubt, all this is Faceborged by proud (and obviously better!) parents. Everybody graduates, of course, except they don’t really. But the inversion, devaluing and degrading of language is real, as is the child’s loss of valuable playing time.

Some may say: Now, hold on, SenecaThis claim hardly does credit to the wisdom you feign in borrowing the mantle of your illustrious namesake; what’s wrong with someone putting together some activities and lessons for the summer hols? Kids get bored sometimes, you know! Stated thusly, the answer is – absolutely nothing! Doing things, educational or otherwise, with children over the holidays (and especially, your own children) is natural and right. Organising at local level, also meets my approval. But the C.U. idea goes beyond this organically-sized project. And taking the thinking, beyond the simple idea, to second level and beyond allows us to see danger shaping up.

Firstly, in the obligation on parents and children to be thinking of lessons and attainment during what is traditionally a downtime; ignoring that this downtime is central to consolidation of learning and mental recovery. As if still at school, the child’s mind never gets into holiday mode, but always has a lesson coming up; moreover, one which has to be recorded into their uni ‘passport’. I liken this situation to an adult going on holiday and daily checking their work emails or updating their professional development folder!

Secondly, conferring the word ‘university’ on children’s activities contributes to the phenomenon of ‘word inflation’, whereby the ordinary (or, dare you think it, substandard?) is redefined in glowing terms; thus to inflate the conceit of the hearer to better deceive them. By transferring meanings across adult and child domains we devalue terms and concepts, and confuse the recipients.  It is a form of psychological manipulation, and by this means the disingenuous and downright lies enter into the things they describe. And thusly, are our schools full of bullshit. A cornerstone of the revival of our culture has to be an awareness of how this malefic language degrades us, wedded to a conscious attempt to restore natural language by rejecting the verbose, the deceitful and the Orwellian.

Finally, I am concerned at the real threat that comes with funding and nice websites – that of subversion. Can anyone doubt now, with White racism and sexism found everywhere, that such a ready-made platform (tailored to the demographic most desired by our masters) will soon find itself dancing to their tunes.

Anyway, I don’t believe the claim that such programmes create a sense of achievement and boost confidence. I think that, regardless of a child’s real interest in the topic they are studying, it is seen as  just another adult-mediated thing they are forced to do. And parents are, at best, patronising their children if they buy into this idea of the Children's University.

I think that parents should be wary of such programmes. Let your children have real time off. If they get bored, then that’s their problem to fix.

There is a time and a place for everything, but it seems that every time and place is to be seized as an opportunity to impose ‘good ideas’ on our children. Everything is about achievement, it seems; it’s as if children are preparing their C.V. at 8 years old. Maybe they are.

What think ye?