Groovy. Really?

Three tradespeople I spoke to recently all had one thing in mind. Their kids’ education. The painter, the tiler and the security technician worried about which schools their children would go to, who would teach them, and whether their learning would prepare them for a decent job. Two of the three parents were looking at…

Get perspective and win

Kefilwe To begin with she caused me a lot of grief; she had a smart answer for everything. Mid height. Slender. Upright. Lithe in her black school pinafore. Her name? Kefilwe. Playful, and a startlingly sharp student. Rashida Tall. Large. Lumbering. Sloping shoulders. Her school dress hanging like a bloated bluebell. A face that gave…

Uber and goodbye to all that?

Taking a ride in a black cab in England is luxurious. Bags of room, the taxi scuttles around—weaving through traffic and amazing you with its tight turns. London on summer evenings is particularly lovely. The city’s great buildings bask in sunset colours and Brits enjoy England’s delicate warmth as they saunter along Pall Mall or…

What works best?

Real beauty is breathtaking. Whether it is a figure of beauty or an act of beauty. The tea plantations, for example, of the Niligiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, will take your breath away. A sort of shock sets in at the sight of the beds of green coral covering the valleys and sides of hills…

Lines of least resistance

It was late in the afternoon, and it had been a hot, bright day. I was standing in the Deputy Principal’s office feeling slightly tired, but excited. New technology had arrived. It was in a box on a table in the corner. I asked if we could unpack it and put it to use. My…

Changing lives for the better

He was unprepossessing: short, slightly overweight and middle-aged. And while not particularly attractive, there was nothing particularly unattractive about him. He was neither flamboyant nor charismatic; he usually spoke in an even manner, without much variance. He had a great sense of humour that spilled out of him, catching us up in his mirth. He…

Creating a dystopia?

During recent months, images of children with smartphones and tablets have become increasingly common across media. Pictures of an infant, not yet able to stand, grappling with an iPhone, or a wobbling toddler clinging to an iPad, have prompted headlines warning of a ‘Brave New World’. Articles raise the sceptre of a coming dystopia because our kids are being ruined by technology. Handhelds are the new opiates that enslave children and dull their capacity to think. Kids vegetate as they waste hours playing mind-numbing and trivial games. So the arguments run. But these arguments are wrong. They are wrong, because…

Girls are doing better?

The score was 2-nil. The crowd knew it. The players knew it (and knew who’d headed the ball into the net and struck home the penalty goal). But when the whistle blew to signal the end of the game it was declared a draw. No record of the final score was taken. It wasn’t even mentioned. No tally of goals or player-of-the-match award. Just polite clapping. The strangeness of it all, and the uneasiness I felt, was not lessened by a teacher assuring me that ‘participation’ was all that mattered—that score-keeping was competitive and damaging to children’s ‘self-esteem’. A new-era…

Trust and parental monitoring

At 1:30 a.m. and in the wet I could see what was coming. The car was 30-40 yards away. It was doing at least 50 mph. Skidding, fishtailing towards me. Out of control. I was trapped. Parked cars on both sides of the road hemmed me in. Nowhere to go. Just waiting for the impact. It came, as I knew it would, with a deadening, muted, metal boom-ph. Next thing I knew was the steering wheel bent out of shape and pushed up against my ribs; the front of my car arched up; and my passenger trapped from the waist…

Nurturing a habit (3 of 7)

Sometimes we stand in awe of people we meet. Not intimidated, but impressed by something real and present about them. Not so much personality as quality. This is true of J.—. And, what’s the particular quality he embodies? Well, I am not sure if we have a name for it, though we recognise it when we see it. It is something worth nurturing. A habit to practice in the hope that it becomes a virtue. Virtue. Not so much a ‘value’—as if it’s something we can swap for something else if we change our minds. Virtue in the sense that…