Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Peculiar Case of Cork People.

A harrowing affliction. Note: Bruce Willis is not from Cork.

As another edition of The Late Late Show neared its finale, Ryan Tubridy busied himself in carrying out the final task of the show; the awarding of a prize for a viewer at home who has answered the selected question correctly, a well-oiled ritual carried out each week. It was a woman who had won this week and her name was Julie. As soon as Julie and Tubs had moved past the incipient congenial greetings, Tubs queried as to where Julie was from. "I'm from West Cork actually Ryan." That seemingly insignificant answer to an equally insignificant question actually troubled me. Well, troubled is the wrong word, I'd say more strangely amused me. For it almost unequivocally summed up the Cork people and their psyche. Let me explain..

It was the use of the word "actually". Why did Julie insist on using it? Tubridy had not accused her of being located in another county, he merely asked her where she was from. "West Cork" would have sufficed but she insisted on jabbing the apparently fatuous "actually" at the end of the sentence. For me, it wasn't fatuous or unintended, she was stamping her authority. 

"What a churlish question Ryan you foolish ninkenpoop. Where the fuck did you think I was from? ROSCOMMON?? Could you not detect from the sweet aura of my voice and the strong tone in my accent that I am from the most fabulously rebellious county in Ireland? For shame." This is what I believe she meant by the seemingly unassuming "actually".

Now it is possible that I am examining Julie's statement a tad too foreniscally but I feel that her terse retort is indicative of the attitude of the Cork people, the siege mentality that the county abides by. For Cork is no ordinary county; it is no Laois or Carlow or Fermanagh. Cork is a county of people who are loved and loathed in equal measure, a county that is the subject of much ridicule but that still retains an air of respectability, a county of (the langers will love this) rebels.

They're just a bit different, aren't they? Special one might say. From the People's Republic of Cork shenanigans to the national anthem of Cork, The Langer Song. They are the Americans of Ireland; loud, brash, afraid of anything non-domestic and thought to be unintelligent. They love to be noticed. It is a proud moment for Cork when a Cork-related story is the main headline on RTE News. It doesn't even matter what the story is, if it's related to Cork it has to be good. Cork people, naturally, claim that it is a moment that is too rare and symbolic of the anti-Cork bias abound in the Capital. Indeed, Dublin's status as the capital city of Ireland is rejected by Corkonians for Cork is apparently the "real capital".

A quality that almost all Cork people retain is the inability for any type of self-criticism or even assessment. Whether it's Roy Keane's unflinching self-assurance during and indeed after Saipan or even Stephen Ireland's refusal to apologise for his grandmother-related indiscretions five years ago, Langers have a thing about admitting when they're wrong (Well, Keane was partially right in my view but I am NOT getting into Saipan).

I have an anecdotal example to back up my claims. Cork folk, collectively as well as merely individually, have a propensity to ignore their (countless) misdemeanours. A few years ago I was in Cork City wandering around one of the markets that clutters the City centre. As I flicked through some of the t-shirts on display, one of the stalls was selling one particular piece of clothing that caught my eye. It was a green t-shirt with the faces of two of Cork's most revered sons, Michael Collins and Roy Keane, emblazoned across the front with the caption under reading "TWO CORK HEROES. BOTH SHOT IN THE BACK". Charming yet incontrovertibly puzzling. To the best of my knowledge, Michael Collins was shot in Cork by presumably a Cork person. You can say he was metaphorically shot in the back (He was physically shot in the head), many people would say he was betrayed by men whom he trained, but Cork people cannot exonerate themselves from any culpability with a paltry t-shirt. YOU shot him Cork. No one else beside you. YOU shot that particular Cork hero in the back. No point mourning him now, is there?

When I told this story to my Cork friend, let's call him Brendan Roche, he told me that it was frivolous as it's common knowledge in Cork that "It was a Kerry person who came over the border and shot Michael Collins, NOT a Cork person." Typical Cork behaviour. Admonishing themselves from any blame while flagrantly besmirching the good name of a superior county. 

Cork people like trouble too. Once upon a time, they didn't need to impudently chant "REBELS, REBELS" to inform people that they were a recalcitrant people; they showed it with actions. Cork was the county most active during the War of Independence and was also an Anti-Treaty stronghold. While nowadays Cork people don't usually organise ambushes (Unless dear old Paul Galvin is in town) or have their city burned by tans they still love to show off their insubordinate streak. 

The GAA players of the county have been involved in more than a few strikes in recent times. The aforementioned Roy Keane, de facto King of Cork, displayed a distinctly Cork style of rebelliousness during his playing career what with Saipan, Alf Inge Haaland and prawn sandwiches. Indeed, Stephen Ireland committed the most rebellious act of all by admitting he'd rather "shoot himself" than live in Cork. Claiming Cork is shit is even seen as rebellious by Cork people. And if Cork GAA, Roy Keane and Stephen Ireland have anything in common besides their birthplace it is indeed that they have all caused a bucketload of trouble in the last 10 years.

I have no beef with Cork. After reading this you may suspect that I hate Cork. I don't. I think Cork is a fantastic county with vibrant people and stunning scenery. It's just fun to mock (Hindsight note - "Vibrant people", what a horribly inane and bland statement). I'm from Kerry you see. We have this thing, us and Cork, we're not meant to get along. I'm meant to hate them. But I don't. Or do I? They're not as bad as Dublin... but they're no Kerry. My perplexing rhetoric surrounding my feelings regarding Cork encapsulates our feelings about the Cork people and county wonderfully - They're a bit odd. In a good way.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The simple beauty of Reeling in the Years.

There is nothing quite as Irish as Reeling in the Years. Not Guinness, not Tayto, not GAA, not mass. Not even referring to English people as "Tans", a charming idiosyncrasy handed down from generation to generation since 1920 and completely exclusive to us can claim to be as quintessentially gaelic as an episode of Reeling in the Years. For Reeling in the Years combines the three emotions Irish people love most, namely nostalgia, sentimentality and patriotism, into one condensed, half-hour body. 

Nostalgia and sentimentality are probably what us Irish do best. Thanks to years of imperialism and oppression, us Irish have conjured up some utopian image of Gaelic Ireland, the Ireland before the British came, the Ireland of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Na Fianna where everyone spoke Gaelic, lived in tribes, wore garish robes and wrote in ogham. Our misguided attempts at recreating this Fenian utopia have only strengthened our love of nostalgia. It's almost a national sport at this stage with our wonderfully maudlin ballads and fleeting attempts at retaining our quickly disappearing heritage perhaps conveying best our love of nostalgia. Reeling in the Years provides us with oodles of nostalgia. It practically seeps from the television screen, it does.

Reeling in the Years is quite an interactive programme also and this helps with its appeal. It has no spoken narrative, the footage is subtitled with short, terse descriptions of what is happening which is there to inform you on the basics of the situation at hand without giving any insight into the consequences or causes. This allows people to form their own opinion on the events. The unobstructed and simple way that it is presented helps jog people's memories and arouse the emotions they felt about the particular subject or event the programme is covering. Reeling in the Years doesn't tell you what to think but it does, in its own lovely, benevolent way ask you to think. It asks you to consider the topics on screen and to evaluate and then possibly re-evaluate your feelings regarding them.

Naturally I'm too young to remember the vast majority of the years that Reeling in the Years has covered but this does not inhibit my fascination with the programme in the slightest. It is a fountain of primary sources, a magnifying glass on the past and a wonderful taster of life in pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Of course now that they have released episodes covering the Noughties, I can engage in the same lachrymose and romantic reminiscence as my elders. And I do thoroughly enjoy it. 

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of Reeling in the Years is indeed the music. The soundtrack to the programme is wonderfully quaint and always apt. They don't just play songs from that year; they play songs that best convey the overriding sentiments of the public that year. For instance, the 1984 edition featured "What Difference Does It Make?" by The Smiths playing while images of unemployment, striking, social deprivation and hapless politicians roared across the screen. The song summed up the desperation, the futility and the hopelessness of that era quite pertinently. And that was no accident. They do that for effect and they do it very, very well. 

Indeed the point of Reeling in the Years is not to provide a description of the year it is covering, no, if it were the show would run chronologically and would put particular emphasis on the more important and newsworthy stories of the year it's covering. Instead, Reeling in the Years affords the same time to sometimes humourous, local stories as it does to massive, international scandals. For instance, I watched Reeling in the Years: 1974 last Wednesday and the same time was afforded to a report on an oil spill in West Cork as was to the Watergate Scandal. But that is merely part of the appeal and beauty of Reeling in the Years; the wonderful colloquial and local feeling that it emits.

Watching Reeling in the Years is almost a form of escapism. It transports you back to a different time, with different values and different beliefs. Modern life constantly frustrates and disappoints us. So sometimes, it's just nice to be able to relive some old memories thanks to a wonderfully crystallised view of the past. Reeling in the Years might not be RTE's most lavish or experimental production, it could be argued that it is quite anodyne, but therein lies its beauty. Its gorgeous simplicity is what makes it such easy viewing and can elicit all sorts of emotions and feelings. It is a programme with no agenda other than to inform. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

What it's like dressing (relatively) flamboyantly in Ireland.

This is how most people in Ireland perceive my dress sense.

Flamboyancy. It’s a wonderful word. It’s just so evocative and enchanting. For me, it evokes an image of an urbane and confident man, clad in bohemian-esque attire, with a darting gaze, suave walk and dazzling smile. It’s something to strive for, it’s an image to want. I’m occasionally told I am flamboyant. Most often I’m told I dress flamboyantly. Often times it’s just me looking in a mirror and telling myself that I am flamboyant and wonderfully rebellious just so I can justify the wearing of some garish piece of clothing but sometimes people who aren’t actually me tell me that I’m flamboyant.

I usually laugh off such suggestions. Well, in public anyway. I tell them that I am only relatively flamboyant and that yes, in comparison with the innocently primitive males that inhabit Kerry and Limerick with their Hollister hoodies and Canterbury trackies, I am a luridly dressed maverick of the highest order. But place me in a more cosmopolitan and expressive environment, such as Dublin or London, and my flamboyancy becomes more uniform and more mundane. So this beggars the question, what exactly is it like dressing (relatively) flamboyant in the part of Ireland that isn’t Dublin? It’s quite peculiar to tell the truth.

 I’m naturally quite a showy person and as such I like my choice of apparel to reflect my ostentatious nature. I do like to stand out, especially visually. That’s not to say that I wear flashy clothes simply to distinguish myself from the crowd, I do actually like my own style, but it does help me with my showing off and attention seeking. Dressing differently in an environment often unwelcoming to flamboyancy does attract some negative attention though of course. I think how I dress foments mockery, derision and even disgust at least once a day.

Occurrences of ridicule regarding my dress sense are so ubiquitous now that I barely register them. My friends often mock my style but I know that that’s merely harmless joking; it’s the insults from strangers that initially agitated me. The insults still fly but it’s as if I’ve switched an imaginary mute button in my brain on so they aren’t really audible and don’t enter my noggin.

It’s the usual schtick really, “Fucking QUEER”, “Gay boy”, “Pussy” and the like. I imagine were I to be a visitor of the lavender passage, more commonly known as a “homosexual”, these primal and ignorant jibes would have deeply disturbed me. But I ain’t gay. Which some people find difficult to believe. Which smoothly leads me onto my next point.

Dressing flamboyantly in Ireland leads people to believing that you are gay. That may sound a tad obvious and implied by my previous paragraph but I don’t mean people impishly intimating that you are homosexual; I mean people seriously assuming that you are gay. I have a very recent anecdote to back up these claims. Very recently, a man, who I presume is gay, attempted to chat me up (If he is not gay then maybe he was just very lonely).

It was at the Limerick Student Race Day and I was dressed in typical Conor fashion: Skinny jeans, smart denim shirt, skinny tie, Grandpa cardigan and tasteful rockstar boots. I was sitting chatting with friends when the man sat down next to us and nonchalantly involved himself in our conversation, in a nice way though, he didn’t rudely interpose or anything. He stared into my eyes then and asked me in his squeaky yet imposing voice, “Are you gay man?” I was caught in a flummox here. The devilish joker in me told me to lie and act camply to confirm his suspicions but the decent man in me told me to inform him that no, unfortunately for the male species, I am not gay. I quickly plumped for the latter. 

He stared at the ground despondently, threw his hands in the air and stamped his feet wildly on the ground and exclaimed boorishly “WHY ARE ALL THE SEXY ONES ALWAYS STRAIGHT?? WHY? WHY GOD WHY?” I was going to step in and explain how, according to the bible, God and Jesus hold nothing but contempt for homosexuals but I decided that the irony of his comments probably wouldn’t be lost on him.

I jest of course. He actually just reservedly uttered “Oh…. Well you just give off that vibe.” We laughed and had a good and hearty chat. But this is no isolated incident. Many of my friends have legitimately questioned my sexuality, as do intoxicated girls on nights out. Funny thing is, besides my funky dress sense, I don’t really conform to the gay stereotype. I speak in a harsh, rusty Kerry brogue and my gesticulation is noticeably restrained. I move quite a bit, I am very hyper, but this is not perceived as being an intrinsically homosexual trait. So by that logic, it’s my flamboyant dress sense that gives off the gay vibe.  Not really surprising is it?

I imagine at this stage you’re expecting me to reveal the numerous sexual benefits one dressing in a flamboyant fashion enjoys but in fact you would be mistaken. There aren’t many. Irish ladies are mostly stubbornly conservative when it comes to male fashion. Too many of them believe that females should be as expressive and experimental as they wish when it comes to the garments they wear but that men should abide by a stringent set of guidelines: No skinny jeans, no shirt buttoned to the top, no rockstar boots and no luminous bracelets. We’re told that females find the mysteriously different male attractive but Irish ladies seem to be a different bred. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a narcissistic twerp who just ain’t too attractive, you decide.

I never will change my style because, in the words of every single tawdry X Factor/The Voice/Britain’s Got Talent/Got to Dance contestant, “I AM WHO I AM.” Dressing (relatively) flamboyantly is what I do and I believe I do it (relatively) well.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Plan B: The socially concious rapper changing the way people think about the working class.

Hip hop is a strange beast. It’s almost the rock and roll of modern times. It is to the 21st century what Rock and Roll was to the mid-20th century. It’s reprobated by parents and the ruling classes alike as somehow applauding and even encouraging a life of hedonism, extravagance and sin but revered by young people as a tool for rebelling against authority. It can however, from time to time, highlight and discuss complex social, political and moral issues in much the same way as rock and roll did (And in some ways, still does). Every now and then an artist comes along who wants more than to just make records and make money; there comes an artist who wants to make a difference. Plan B is such an artist.

“What does the word chav mean?” Quite a simple question really. We all have a socially constructed image of what a chav is. He’s a man who looks like Wayne Rooney, sounds like Dizzee Rascal and dresses like a guest on the Jeremy Kyle Show. This is the question that Plan B asks the crowd gathered in the convention centre. He knows exactly what the slew of people gathered in the room are thinking. And it ain’t far off my terse description.

“I believe it stands for "council house and violent". It's a word that is used to ridicule and label people who come from a less educated background than the rest of society. For me, it's no different from similar words used to be prejudiced towards race or sex. The difference is, in this country we openly say the word chav. The papers openly ridicule the poor and less unfortunate.” This was Plan B’s definition.

This is only a snippet of the masterful talk on disadvantaged youth which Plan B, real name Ben Drew, gave recently at the TEDxObserver convention in London. An impassioned Plan B calmly and coolly outlined his views on the perceived “underclass” in Britain, the London riots and media portrayals of “chavs” while backing up his arguments with personal anecdotes. He spoke slowly, it was clear he wasn’t used to public speaking, but he talked assuredly and discussed how he’s helping highlight these issues and how he’s working with disadvantaged youths.

One of the ways he’s accentuating the issues facing working-class youths is by directing and writing the soundtrack to a new film scheduled for release this summer, ill Manors, which focuses on the lives of four working-class youths in London. The single which takes its name from the film and focuses on the London Riots of last summer was released last month and boy did it light a fuse.  

ill Manors, the song, has sparked mass debate online in the past few weeks regarding its lyrical content and even the video which accompanies it. Some see it as Plan B endorsing the rioters and their actions while others see it as an alternative take on the riots, focusing on a perspective not taken into account by the mainstream press last year; the perspective of the rioters. Some even see it as some sort of working class anthem and Dorian Lynskey, writing for The Guardian, went as far as christening it “the greatest British protest song in years.” Whatever your take is on it, one can’t help but admit that it’s refreshing to see a mainstream artist take such a keen interest in such an important and divisive event.

The song itself sees Plan B revert back to his old hip-hopping ways and is a long way off his last album, the soulful smash-hit The Defamation of Strickland Banks. The songs deals with not only the riots themselves, but also some of the causes and the reaction. The lyrics are sharp, aggressive and brilliantly witty. The song is raucously angry. Anger is the main emotion expressed. “Oi! I said, Oi! What you looking at you little rich boy? We’re poor round ‘ere, run home and lock your door!” shouts Plan B during the particularly aggressive and embattled chorus.

“There's no such thing as broken Britain, we're just bloody broke in Britain. What needs fixing is the system, not shop windows down in Brixton. Riots on the television, you can't put us all in prison!”

It’s clear the message Plan B is trying to convey. The rioters feel no sense of belonging in a society that demonizes and vilifies them. They don’t feel any respect for authority as they don’t feel any respect from authority.  

Indeed, on the subject of society and the working class, this is what Plan B had to say during his speech at TEDxObserver; “You’ve got a whole generation of kids who do not feel like they’re part of this society and they start rioting and looting and taking the things that society has made them feel are the most important things.” Ill Manors echo these sentiments.

This is no standalone act however. Plan B is not merely satisfied by highlighting the problem with a film and song, he really does want to change things. He ended his speech by revealing his next move, “The next step for me is to try and create an umbrella organisation that is going to bring in money and disperse it amongst these individuals within their communities, working within their communities, doing positive things with no funding.” 

He told the crowd of a hairdresser named Andrew Curtis who, instead of accepting a high-paying job from renowned hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, set up a hairdressing academy with his girlfriend to teach underprivileged youths how to cut hair. These, Plan B claims, are the kinds of people he wants to help.

The riots, and most pertinently the reaction to them, have further alienated the “underclass”, as Plan B calls them, from society and indeed from the government. Plan B claimed in a recent interview with NME Magazine that the rioters played into the hands of the Government by rioting, that they “proved everything they've [the government] been saying."

He’s correct. The riots made it easier for the Government and middle class to castigate and condemn the working class. It confirmed to them what they had assumed all along; the working class are all violent thugs with no hope and no future (Not all middle class people hold this view, I might add). This widens the gap in communication and understanding between the classes. People will be less inclined to help those financially less fortunate than themselves as they don’t see them as deserving of any help.

This is where an artist like Plan B comes in. He is in the unique position of being able to speak to all classes. As someone who comes from a working class background his opinion is valued by the poor and as a celebrity his opinion is valued by Middle England. He has the status and the faculty to appeal to all classes.

Him being a rapper is important too. As an avowed rocker, it does a teensy weensy bit pain me to say this but it’s true; Hip-hop is far and away the most successful genre of music right now. It’s adored by working class and middle class alike and is the choice genre for the majority of young people. Thanks to this, Plan B has the target audience within his grasp.

As he says himself “If I wanna talk to these kids, if I wanna get through to them I’ve gotta talk to them in their language, I got to swear. I’ve gotta talk about violent and negative things because that’s what they’re attracted to.”

Let’s hope he can get through to these kids and let’s hope there are more artists and musicians out there with the same moral fibre as Ben Drew. If there is, they may just help form a society that is more inclusive and more in sync with all its members.

Here's Plan B's speech at the TEDxObserver convention in full. Definitely worth a listen if you have the time.

And here's the song ill Manors. If you haven't heard it yet, first, smack yourself and then it that "play" button.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Leaving Cert shows up our education system for what it truly is.

“Just so you know from the rest of us who’ve been through the whole school system, the stuff you’re learning day-to-day, all the subjects and all the quotes, when you get out into the real world, that stuff is vital. Frankly, hardly a day goes by where I don’t have to quote a theorem or mention a poem.”

You may be vaguely familiar with this quote. Dara O’Briain, while making light of the oft-risible education system, sarcastically uttered it to a student in the crowd during one of his shows. In one, almost throwaway, comedic remark O’Briain managed to encapsulate the banality and absurdity of our supposed education system. We’re meant to be learning, we’re told we’re learning but how much are we actually learning?

As I type this, thousands of 6th year pupils up and down the country are possibly studying, possibly dawdling and definitely anticipating the end of June when the shackles of second-level education are removed from them. If they are studying, and let’s assume they are, then just how are they doing it? Some may be insouciantly leafing over Hamlet, some may be tackling some tricky project maths problems and some may be practicing for the dreaded oral exams. A lot of the pupils will be learning off pre-meditated questions they have prepared in anticipation of topics they know will be on the paper come June. In fact, more than a lot of them will. A whole bunch of them will.

Rote learning as it is known, is the technique employed by so many pupils, and not just ones sitting their Leaving Cert. Rote learning is defined as “memorization by repetition”. Basically it’s vapidly consuming information and regurgitating it on exam day. It’s a technique inculcated into the minds of students by well-oiled and indolent teachers. It’s used simply because it works. The way our Leaving Certificate is structured and its predictability, encourages and almost fosters rote learning. Exams are so predictable and repetitive that teachers know what topics to focus in on beforehand. Take English for instance. Every year predictions are made on which poets will appear on Paper 2. This means that students simply learn off two poets and neglect all of the others. This is a tactic that more often than not works but just how much do you learn from it?

Rote learning is horribly unnatural. It’s indicative of the superficial world we inhabit. Humans are seen as commodities, some more valuable than others. The education system in its present state inhibits creativity, free-thinking or debate. It fosters obedience and efficiency. It teaches us how we can be good, submissive and complaisant members of society. We don’t learn to further or better our understanding of the world, we don’t learn on ways to improve the world; we learn how to get a job and how to shut up.

The prosaic rote learning technique implies that humans are robots, they take in information and they regurgitate the same information. Very rarely on any exam is a student’s individuality or opinion allowed to shine.  English paper one is the only paper where students are allowed to properly express themselves. And even then, some teachers have been known to encourage students to formulate pre-meditated essays before paper 1; a move that can help with marks but greatly hinders any last morsel of creativity.

History provides ample example of this monotonous regurgitation. Topics are easily predictable and many students are encouraged to ignore certain sections of history, not because they are of any less historical merit, but because they “won’t come up this year”. Pupils are also told never to show their opinion when answering questions but merely to “stick to the facts”. Does this approach really help with a student’s apprehension or understanding of the subject? After the Leaving Certificate ends and the pupil heads to college or is thrust into the workforce, or even in these austere times into the dole queue, how much history will they actually remember? And, how much will they appreciate it?

When speaking on the topic of education, the late, great American comedian and social commentator George Carlin said of the education system in its current form; “They don’t want a population that’s capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That doesn’t help them. It goes against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re being fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin’ years ago.” The “they” the magnificently perspicacious Carlin was referring to are the elite classes.

He went on to say “You know what they want? They want obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime,”

So is Carlin right? Is there a concrete reason why the education system is so banal, uninspiring and repetitive? A passive and subordinate society is always in the interest of the ruling classes. As Carlin says, they don’t want people intelligent enough to be able to figure out that they are being, as he so befittingly puts it, “fucked over”. It’s an interesting theory to mull over.

The Leaving Certificate is set for a change however. In light of its increasing predictability, part-time Minister for Education and full-time gobshite Ruairi Quinn has announced a reform of the Leaving Certificate system. Now as you may have guessed, I am not Quinn’s biggest fan, but I am willing to listen and examine his points.

Way yonder in December, Quinn had this to say on the predictability factor: “This leads to ‘teaching to the test’, for example anticipating what poets will come up in the English examination. Teachers, under pressure, will concentrate on predicted questions that are likely to arise.” Well at least he acknowledges that there’s a problem. The State Examination Commission also recognised “Problematic predictability”. What measures will be taken to combat the issue are yet to be revealed and they won’t be in place for at least three years.

While they are steps in the right direction I don’t think they go far enough. We need to encourage critical thinking amongst teenagers. We need to help creativity grow and love of the arts and sciences foster. The system in its current form dissuades students from free-thinking and recalcitrance. It’s especially important in this current climate of bankers’ bonuses and politicians’ broken promises that we have a society that asks questions, that realises the importance in improving the world not just for the self or for the few, but for the all. With an overhaul of not just the education system but also the way we think about education, we might just achieve this.