One article I read, amongst the acres of considered and ill-considered comments, on the causes of the recent riots and looting across the UK struck a chord. It may not be the only ’cause’ but one which made perfect sense on a very fundamental level …
Illiteracy is a powerful driver of bad behaviour. The US Department of Justice concluded that ‘failing to read at school meets all the requirements for bringing about and maintaining the frustration level that frequently leads to delinquency. This sustained and ever-growing frustration causes aggressive anti-social behaviour.‘
It’s difficult, being literate, to even imagine a life without reading or writing. Just thinking about the frustration levels it must cause on so many levels makes me feel desperate. ‘Education, education, education‘ everyone shrieks but the system itself needs a serious overhaul. Prisoners between 15 and 17 years old have doubled in the last ten years and ONE QUARTER of total prisoners has a reading age of less than seven. Terrifying. Most teachers when discussing an unruly child, question what is wrong with the child or blame his or her background, rarely their own teaching. This needs addressing too. As one of my favourite Tibetan sayings goes – ‘It’s easy to blame external circumstances for our failings but it is clearly far easier to wear a pair of sandals than to cover the entire road in leather.’
Just a thought.