Dear lovely people
I got to the end of January and realised I hadn’t called any of our team. We use Flow, the online platform from Montpellier Group. It’s a bespoke training and communications base for hospitality. It’s brilliant, Flow we love you! It keeps us compliant, keeps the team learning and it allows us to share knowledge and learnings. The team loves it. We’ve shared weekly updates during lockdown and it has allowed us to keep in touch but I hadn’t spoken to any of our team that were on full furlough since December.
What’s lovely about talking to people with shared values is the equal care that you get back. As much as we worry for them and their family and miss them, Victor and I always get the same support back for our family and off course, puppy Rocco.
There was however a clear sense of that awful word “Covid fatigue”. Everyone and everything feels different this time to Lockdown 1. Overall spirits were high but everyone is keen to get back to work and get back to looking after all you lovely people.
What was striking was the anxiety from the team who have young children. The feeling of guilt around home schooling is really tangible. It’s really sad that parents are carrying this burden.
What has made me angry (I don’t like using this word but feel it’s relevant here) is with schools closed and exams on hold, again, the constant talk of a lost generation is so damaging. Where did the figure of a £40,000 loss in each child’s lifetime due to disruption in formal education come from? I believe this rhetoric is not serving anyone well.
My anger is that we can articulate the outcome of actions but we can’t articulate an action for the solution now that we know the problem? That sounds like a PHD maths question? Somebody must have the answer!
We’ve tried to apply the same school curriculum to a home environment. Is that not madness? We are tasking parents to complete a job with no formal educational teaching skills. Even the academics in our team, never mind our amazing pastry skilled chefs have found homeschooling extremely challenging.
I’d like to see a Primary 1 teacher bake 300 scones, 8 different cakes, 1000 pieces of shortbread and 2 desserts a day and not get stressed about it and have it at a standard that a customer would be willing to pay a restaurant price for. Ingreda (our pastry chef at TSC), you’re amazing! This is the equivalent level of teaching skill we are asking our parents to adopt on a daily basis. Our teachers are amazing and my heart goes out to everyone tasked with the education of our children. A skill I’ve always valued. They, like us, are having to adapt their whole model and I know how hard it is!
My own children (now 15, 17 and 19yo) have told me we wouldn’t have come out of lockdown alive if their schooling had been left to me or Daddy. I had three children under three. You can only imagine what a 7,9 and 11 combination or a 3,5 and 7 combination could have been like?
Baby daughter at dinner said her teacher had to stop her class and assign homework. Ballet daughter has teachers cancelling class before they even started. No 1 son’s work schedule went to junk! How can you teach A Level Biology or Nat 5 maths with a toddler saying Mummy, mummy, mummy…… It’s not fair on anyone.
Parents are natural teachers. We only want what’s safest and best for our children. So let’s teach what we know we can. Even as adults we never stop learning, so maybe we just have to learn something different?
Arithmetic and reading are vital skills but so are cooking, paying the bills, laundry, survival and health and wellbeing.
Can we not teach different things at this different time in our very different world?
Stress at home will be the cause of more damage than any lost knowledge of Ancient Egyptians or Trigonometry. Single parents will have even more challenges. Furlough may help time but not skill. Stress is not only damaging for the person carrying it, it affects all those around them and children are exceptionally sensitive to their parents’ stress. Loans and grants have helped me park the stress for this lockdown anyway.
We’ve said all along this is a psychological battle. To hear that we are creating a lost generation is poisonous. My own children have raised this in conversation. If you tell somebody something often enough they will believe it. They will also carry it and resent it.
We need to say we are creating a caring and capable generation that is resilient and has learned tools that will serve them well in life. Compassion, understanding, communication, finances, cooking a pot of soup or baking a traybake we have to make this positive. We need to create happy memories. Even with schools slowly returning later this month we have to shift the narrative.
Let’s face it, the vast majority of young adults (all young adults should have access to the internet) have a mobile phone or computer (if they don’t Apple get your hand in your pocket and Amazon can pay the phone bill) and the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips. We need to learn new ways to learn and maybe Covid can create a good opportunity to do this?
We need a Covid National Curriculum.
The BBC have given access to their channels for some home-schooling but imagine that all BBC channels from 9am to 3pm were used for tiered aged teaching but hosted by our national treasures? David Attenborough teaches viruses and biology. Marcus Rushford teaches food nutrition with a 1 hour workout. Sir Alan Sugar holds a “money makes the world go round” entrepreneurs session. Idris Elba talks about modern day slavery. Harry Styles teaches us scales and fashion. Miranda Hart teaches us to have a laugh about life.Homework can be online based on these learnings. The internet should be creating a level playing field for access to information. During Covid it has created a divide bigger than ever. This is idealistic again but trying to fit the old model into a Pandemic isn’t working either.
There is so much to learn. There is so much to understand. Teach about the stock market. Teach about Brexit. Teach about where our food comes from, Gordon Ramsay could easily do that class. One hour of telly could reach an unlimited number of children at once. Sharing the experience in a positive environment. Get industry leaders to teach our children and inspire them. Give every child a laptop and every family food box so they can cook and eat together. There are many ways to learn, trying to do it the old way in a pandemic is a circle of madness.
The billionaires of this world, the Tesla, Facebook, Amazon, through proper taxes (even a top up Covid tax) should be philanthropic heroes and provide the technology (not the content) to connect us and to support the education of all our children. The potential failed economic educational divide of this generation is a legacy that will serve nobody well. The resource and the skill is there, we just need the imagination, the desire to share and the will power to make change for the better.
Did exams serve any of us well? No, so let’s park them too. Let’s have the courage and the creativity to do things differently. Who knows what we might learn.
Keep well and keep safe
Keep smiling and keep learning
Thank you, thank you, thank you