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A view from the back - Blog by the drummer

Education, education, education 

The famous speech by Tony Blair resonated through the airwaves a little over 20 years ago as he swept into Downing Street as the new Prime Minister. I say this with the massive benefit of hindsight but it’s not the last time he was wrong. Not that I think he was wrong to put an emphasis on education, its more the education system itself. I’m going to discount the fact that it was his government that put university fees in place – for now. I’m not at all suggesting that the current, and past for that matter, education system is his fault. It’s just, if you’re going to base your political campaign on something then at least try and make it better for the people who voted you in and not worse. 

Its amazing when thinking about writing these blogs how the subject matter hits from a couple of directions, I’ve had 3 this week that have helped me get my thoughts together. Firstly, I was listening to Chrissy Hynde’s audiobook – Reckless. Just from listening to her stories, reckless is an understatement. In her (audio)book, she describes moving to London for the first time (in the 1970’s) she was surprised at how you didn’t need a certificate for every little job. If you want to be a hairdresser, be a hairdresser. You don’t need to go to college before you could work. How times have changed. 

The second thing that hit me was whilst helping my eldest son with his homework. He’s 6 years old, in year 2 at school and he’s got a fair amount of homework. I’ve learned a lot from helping him already. I’ve learned – for example - that he is exactly like me in that he will quite happily leave it to the last minute before cramming any old crap down on a page (thanks for reading). I’ve also learned that I am turning into my parents and will badger him to get it done well ahead of time. This week we have been working on adjectives. My initial thought is what the chuff is an adjective?! Honestly, I had no idea. Thank Google for getting us through it. I don’t consider myself to have a high level of intelligence, but I’m not as thick as 2 short planks either. I can’t remember ever having been taught it and if I have then I have clearly never needed the information in the 22 years since I left school so why do we need to know this? Just so we can help our kids with it when they get to school? Seems like a bat shit crazy system to me. 

The third one that got me this week was a TED Talk. The subject matter was, of course, the education system talking about how creativity is taught out of children. The premise is that everyone starts out life being creative. If you have kids, you will no doubt have seen them drawing pictures, making collages or play doh models or even inventing games and playing out football scenarios. When we get to school, we are squeezed into a little box and sadly it’s the same little box that everyone gets squeezed into. The talk contained a story which I really liked. There’s a little girl painting a picture in the corner of the classroom. The teacher approaches her and asks “What are you painting?” the girl replies “I’m painting a picture of God”. The teacher being taken off guard says “but no one knows what God looks like” to which the girl replies “They will in a minute”. Now obviously I don’t if that is a true story, I like to think it is though. To have the imagination, conviction and confidence to present such a thing should be nurtured. To all the people in the world like that – We need you - please don’t let it be squashed out of you by a system that likes conformity. 

In my drumming and teaching I have always tried to put an emphasis on creativity. I’m not scared to try something, even if it goes wrong. I also preach this to my students. My philosophy of drumming is that – If you play in time then you can’t be wrong, you can only be different and that is a beautiful thing. I’m trying to bring that attitude into the rest of my life. If it feels right then do it.