I see summer as a chance to relax (a bit), to do things differently and to catch up on reading – to reduce the pile of books by the bed and challenge my thinking.
Working with young people in educational settings is an honour and a privilege, but do we then see kids through this prism of ‘normality’ and lose the fact that they are individuals with individual needs and varying life experiences? Absolutely. As a peripatetic teacher / educator I see the presentation of those students on that day and don’t get a chance to see behind that.
I’m beginning to see a different and more in-depth side of the children at the school I’m a governor of in Lancaster, but again, it’s a snatched view which is complemented by the views from the staff and teachers in the school but it’s not real.
This summer I took delivery of “RIFE: twenty-one stories from Britain’s Youth” edited by Nikesh Shukla and Sammy Jones. I helped crowdfund this on the excellent Unbound imprint and couldn’t wait to read it.
These stories come from a range of perspectives, from writers from a range of backgrounds, cover a huge range of topics and are in turn eye-opening, anger-inducing, sympathetic visions of a British upbringing and a snapshot of a country riven with class and wealth disparity.
Thankfully, it is also a vision of hope and excitement for the future, because, despite the above, the writers are all forging ahead with their careers and lives and they are passionate about doing things to make a difference to modern Britain.
Opening with a story of the housing crisis forcing young people to rent from sometimes heartless and greedy landlords in Bristol, the book moves through the gentrification of Hackney, mental health at work, raising aspirations in working-class Manchester, inequality in schools, the difficulty of studying at university versus the idealised image of undergraduate life and working below minimum wages on an HNS Apprenticeship scheme.
All chapters are written clearly in the author’s own voice and the passion and frustration, observations and political opinions are raw and undimmed.
In short, if you want a wider, modern, first-person insight into what life as a young person is like in 21stCentury Britain, the RIFE is a really good place to start.
You can get the book from https://unbound.com/books/rife/ and Amazon.
This has also helped me with my own writing as I’m well on with my book for Crown House called Sending The Ladder Back Down – the why and how of supporting young people with their careers and why it’s everyone’s duty to help others.
My book will be published in Spring 2020.