Completely contrasts what we saw at Kirkby Malham primary school this week. They asked me for my take and took a short version - here's the full one:
'I'd state three things at the outset on this one: Beware generalisations; there are always exceptions - and we tend to get what we focus on. So if you're writing a piece bemoaning the slowing down of youngsters then you would focus on evidence that supports your case. Wouldn't you? I certainly would. And if you're concerned about that very trend then you'd tend to notice stuff around you that is consistent with that - and that doesn't mean other stuff ain't happening, that's just how our brains work - especially the editing suite bit. Look up 'Reticular Activating System' and you'll see what I mean... So 'slowing down' is certainly a part of a bigger picture - but how representative of that big picture is that part?
There's no doubt that our society has changed in many ways over the last 30 years. Most of us are more comfortable and enjoy more choice in our lives and our own hardwiring is both part of the problem and part of the solution: We are efficiency-orientated organisms programmed to achieve a desired emotional state with the least amount of effort. Wanna feel proud? The you can crack a new gaming level on yer X-Box. Wanna feel part of something? Join a Facebook group. 30 years ago joining your local footie team would have got you to the same state - only there was physical activity involved too.
So where am I going with this? Dunno really. Are we slowing down? Some of us certainly are - and some of us certainly are not. Take my sport of ultra running for example and at the top of the sport there are plenty of young guns ripping up the trails in what is supposed to be a game for old guys and gals. I think we have more polarisation now than we did - that's certainly a feature of wider society so it's entirely reasonable to expect it to show in sub-cultures. So if there's less of a homogenised middle maybe it's just easier to notice the differences because differences there certainly are. One of the things we can say about the growth in 'extreme' outdoor/endurance sports is that there are clearly folks out there who are highly motivated challenge-monsters and the folks at the top end are seriously pushing boundaries.
With the degree of relative comfort most of us enjoy in our lives now you have to be really motivated to choose to break out of that. And that stands out. And then there's the other side…'
The schools part of Cracking The Spine is all about getting 'em young, giving 'em a transformational experience and the skills to use and repeat that. No doubt a healthy % will go 'off piste' at some point through teens and 20s, but I believe they'll notice the difference eventually and if so there's a fighting chance they'll return to the fold -and that's got benefits way beyond their own lives. For me that's part of the answer to the 'Why?' bit of all this. So let's make it happen.