Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An Honest Day's Work...

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents kept forcing you to do your homework, on the grounds that if you didn't do well at school you'd end up doing some menial task like cleaning toilets or sweeping the street? Obviously, in these more enlightened times we can't go around denigrating the occupations of ordinary decent hard working people in such a way. After all, where would we be without toilet cleaners and street sweepers? Knee deep in shit, that's where. Nevertheless, the sentiment is still there amongst today's parents. Mind you, these days if you leave school without any qualifications you seem to become a city trader, Richard Branson or Alan Sugar. I don't hear too many parents telling their children "Do your homework or you'll grow up to be a multi-millionaire businessman". They could try telling their offspring "If you don't do your homework you'll grow up to be an obnoxious tosser", but I fear that the prospect of wealth outweighs any considerations of the value of ethics, conscience or even good old fashioned decency.

Mind you, if we're to believe the media, kids' ambitions these days don't seem to extend beyond gaining some form of celebrity. That's another thing - when I was young being famous wasn't necessarily seen as something desirable. Oh sure, if your fame was the result of actually doing something worthwhile, like coming up with a cure for cancer, getting the Nobel prize for literature or something like that, it would have been considered OK. Those were the days when leading academics still had a degree of fame and respect based on their expertise, rather than being caught shagging their students or plagiarising their colleagues. But celebrity - where your fame was derived from appearing in films, or making records - was seen as somehow slightly vulgar, and even foolish. How things have changed. Now we apparently hang on the every word and opinion of celebrities. What do those bloody academics know that Bob Geldolf and Bono don't, eh? You know, what I'd really like to hear parents telling their kids is "If you don't do well at school, you'll end up as a celebrity". But sadly, these days, that would be seen as career progression.

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