Are they worth it?

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Youth (yoof) culture in the UK to a large extent is informed in attitudes by Hip-Hop Culture, or certainly the gift-wrapped version we see on MTV, Virgin Music… Critics may be easily prompted to dismiss this version of ‘yoof culture’ as the ramblings of uneducated and lazy youth. But I point to the growing levels of violence practiced against the youth by older and wiser (?) generations and by youth on youth or gang violence mostly in our urban centres.

The State terror that drove Aaron Schwartz to commit suicide; the domestic violence that killed Kasandra Perkins; the communal violence that killed Trayvon Martin and fatally wounded Malala Yousufzai; have all become commonplace. Not UK violence but for sure the violence that we meet every evening on the 6 pm news broadcast. The message is clear, people of youth are violent! Its a crisis!

Education can and often does address the underlying causes of violence but is not the sole key to addressing this crisis.Teachers must help reclaim the public by affirming with youth that life is worth living. Pedagogy must wrestle with the fact that the worth of youth largely swings between being targeted as (new) consumers and being seen as a disposable population fit only for the prison.

Renewed societal values are absolutely central to the improvement in youth experience; by showing how racism, sexism, and economical exploitation shape the outcomes and therefore the values of the youth, teachers have an opportunity to use the past experience of youth to improve the possible future experience of youth. Some Feminists building on critical views of the traditional nuclear family have illuminated the complex ways that power and violence function in the nuclear family and heterosexual relationships. Yet the buck stops there – the family is to blame?

I think not, well not entirely anyway. We lack the language and values necessary to address the states of terror that have escalated into youth-on-youth violence.

As we move into a more technologically-integrated society (Facebook, Twitter, Google+…), the pressing question is how to elevate the experience and contribution of the youth through these social networking platforms. The first task in answering this question is to challenge the notion that the youth are aloof and normalized to the violence in their midst. If we look closely at these social media hangouts, we find that youth are driven by two goals: the need to share information, and the need to be content creators.

Our next task, then, is to engage them in transforming their ingenuity and passion to share and create content that revises the modern world. Obvious blueprints have been offered. The revolutionary maneuvers of youth in North Africa have been realized through Twitter as a cabal for strategy. The Occupy movement illustrated how we can create webs of inclusion in a leaderless movement, and introduced the public speaking platform known as mic check. These ideas engender a generational attitude encapsulating a way of being. Of social awareness on a grander scale.

This isn’t however, the Marxist dream of a classless society. The economic, social and educational carnage youth face in the streets makes us culpable for failing to create effective institutions that integrate youth into society. If the future belongs to the youth, we must engage them by transforming the ideas of identity management on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into community management by asking them to help share and create ideals we can live by.

“Look at the weak and cry, pray one day you’ll be strong
Fighting for your rights, even when you’re wrong
And hope that at least one of you sing about me when I’m gone
I am worth it?”
— Kenderick Lamar

Gen X, Y & Z + more

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5 generations in the workplace, Generation Z (born 1996 on-wards) are in the workplace and the room for cross-generational conflict is here.  Younger workers feeling deprived of career opportunities by job blockers. Older workers aghast at the irreverence of youth.


Retirement age removed, pension crisis in full swing, surge (massive if you’re Spanish and Greek) in youth unemployment.  The storm is upon us.

The emerging sectors of digital, green and creative offer fantastic opportunities but a greater likelyhood of Gen X, Y and Z coming together each with a different set of skills and reference points.  The challenge; getting each to educate the other in their relative strengths.


The time to be honest is now.  The new realities are that growth and satisfaction come from diverse development experiences along with a range of different career opportunities.  Reverse mentoring (cross-generational educational engagement) projects offer a way of getting the old and the young to just talk to one another.  By engaging across the generations people are freed to have flexible thinking.

By exploring what’s right for individuals and addressing the tensions of generational differences trust can be encouraged to grow.  Experiences and outcomes will be all the more richer, individual priorities appreciated, flexibility fostered and social environments more fluid.

So 5-Gen workplaces, what to do?  Well best advice is definitely don’t lose your head when faced with difficulties.  Honesty is the key, and keep to the task.  Job organisation and design will have to appreciate the different generations and make the best of them.  Rewards too, some younger workers will almost certainly be better rewarded than older workers; again honesty is key, reference the task.

Communication, the biggest single failure in any business, but there is a gap in what is being openly discussed and what should be openly discussed.  Close the gap!

A spectrum of ages in a workplace is a positive advantage.  It allows for a diverse range of skills, points of view, learning opportunities.  By leveraging this diversity the business will benefit.

Each generation will typically have its own communication style, values and feedback modes.  Everyone needs to recognize this and come to terms with it.  Communication styles will have to be flexed to meet the varying demands of communications across the generations.

Job blocking?  Its a fallacy to think that young people are being job blocked and careers stifled by older workers.  By working together opportunities will be created.

Hash (Paris)Brown(ies)

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Right before we start I suggest you go ahead and give yourself a pinch or two, no really, pinch yourself.  Awake and alert? Yes, well here we go.

The new Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes, has appointed a ‘youth commissioner‘ for the area, a Ms Paris Brown. Ms Brown has just turned that pivotal age of 17 yrs. Yes, that’s correct she’s not even old enough to vote!  But she is a youth, of that there is no doubt.

And her pay for this job; £15,000.00 year for a 37 hour week, (£7.80 per hour).  But I’m going to be fair here, Ann Barnes has agreed to a salary reduction herself to cover 33% of Ms. Barnes salary. She will also get a desk, a telephone, and an official car with her own emblem. Will she be given an emblem-ed hoodie as well I ask?  Perhaps if she asked nicely I think.

Well is Ms. Brown an exceptional example, mature beyond her years able to contribute to society as a whole?  Well not exactly.  ‘The only reason young people hang around on the street,’ she has offered, ‘is because there’s nothing else for them to do.’  Genius, I’d never have thought to think that the youth might just need something to do.  She’s already worth every penny she’s paid!  I think not!

She plans to ask the youth what they think would help them to get off the streets.  She thinks jobs are the answer and would like to remove the “stigma of being young”, as if this is a stigma.

So her ideas are just about as original and insightful as the average school leaver, does this mean the £15k is value for money? or could Ms. Barnes have worked this out for herself?  whats really needed I suggest is adequate education, parents that actually care where their offspring are and what they are up-to at night, plenty of activities to do in the evenings (hopefully run by those caring parents who want themselves to contribute to society) coupled with pretty robust sanctions for the children and parents alike when they are found to be vandalizing property or hooliganising the neighborhood. 

Worse still at the weekend, some of Ms Brown’s views were reported: to be precise, foul-mouthed, idiotic rantings on Twitter, (these were subsequently deleted once the balloon went up over them).  These revealed she has a fondness for drugs and alcohol, as well as a number of potentially violent, racist and anti-gay comments. Other messages referred to her cravings for sex and cakes laced with marijuana.  She’s 17 years old!

Never-the-less Ms. Barnes believes her to be exceptional.  I beg to differ.

I think a much more suitable description would be ‘deeply, totally, hopelessly immature’. It’s hard to think of a more inappropriate choice for a post in law enforcement. 

Although I don’t totally blame Ms. Brown for her appointment, Ms. Brown is at an age when teenagers are still full of hormones and trying to make the transition from childhood to adulthood.  Her effort to minimize the fall-out from her remarks; she claimed she had been showing off, she said that she had never actually taken drugs and did not condone people who did. Nor was she an alcoholic, merely drinking a small glass of wine from time to time ‘when I sit indoors with my mum’.

In other words she still needs her mum just like most typical teenagers do at this awkward and troublesome stage in their lives.

So we are left with the question of what on earth did Ms. Barnes think she was doing when she appointed Paris Brown?  The answer of course is she was trying to bridge the generation gap.  That mythical missing bridge between teenage and adulthood where teenagers fall into a hormone induced state of feral frenzy.  However, to suggest that this particular 17 year old is the bridge is folly indeed.  

Mrs Barnes is herself being paid £85,000 per year to bridge the worlds of the police and the community they serve. If she felt she lacked the ability to represent the police to the young of that community, and vice versa, she perhaps shouldn’t have put herself up for candidacy for the job.

It is actually astonishing to think that, in this time of austerity, yet another bureaucratic government ill-thought through scheme should now be spawning yet more jobs that have everything to do with power and status and nothing to do what so ever with public safety and well being.  Virtually every organisation the government comes into contact with (whatever shade of government is in power that is makes no difference just a different emphasis) will falter with the required weight of extra pointless, needless jobs for pen-pushing desk-jockies whose role is fill out the forms ensuring political correctness is embedded by their mini-tyrannies throughout the whole organisation; The Police, The NHS, heck even the Military is going this way.

So Ms. Barnes has thrown an extra £15k down a bottomless black-hole, she isn’t the first and wont be the last I’m willing to bet.  In response to her star youth recruit’s rantings about drugs, violence and sex, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner merely dismissed them. She was sure Ms Brown would be ashamed of these comments, and said — that even though any parent encountering such sentiments on Twitter or Facebook would be shocked, ‘that’s what kids do’.  £15k of public money well spent then?

To put this into perspective, nationally we now have 41 police and crime commissioners earning anything up to £100,000 per year. Quite a number of them have appointed deputies and assistants, sparking allegations of cronyism and money-wasting.

I do have some sympathies for Paris Brown having entered the public eye for a £15k salary + benefits but ill-equipped to deal with the (much) wider fall-out for her appointment.  But she wont be on her own.

Are we just creating more PC-jobs for the sake of them or are we actually adding to the national bank of intelligent thought?

(Wo)Men H8

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I decided this morning to make a short but I hope to the point post.

In may experience women do not = men.



I went for a run last night and when I got part way through my run I stopped for a break and drink of water by the local park entrance where there’s a brick building used for a youth club.  I don’t have any issues with the youth having some place to go and having something to do, I used to be one myself a long time ago.  But where I do draw a line is when that place to go and those things they do essentially deconstruct any sense that they may have had in the first place.

The males in the group I stood and watched were abusively derogatory toward the females in the group.  The girls were referred to as B-atch and Ho!  The girls responded in kind, often making comments about the boys ability at sex.  Now I’m not surprised at this just that the youth center does nothing to give any kind of guidance.

Little surprise really when you listen to and watch the video’s of almost any of the pop, rap and rock music currently produced (although listen to Led Zep or ACDC et al and you get the same kind of message).  The message is clear, gang culture is celebrated, they all think they live in the hood.

The young should be cared for and allowed to experiment in decision making, but they need guidance and they need to understand about equality.

They have to learn right from the start that we all have potential, some will realize that potential and other’s wont, that just the way thing are.  The young need encouragement, a sense of  aspiration, destiny, a meaning.  What they don’t need is somebody saying its okay all the time.  Boundaries have to be set and maintained consistently and allowing this macho BS is not doing anything to improve the prospects of our youth (and this applies the world over).

The boys have gotta learn that their “sista” ain’t their enemy, she’s their sister, mother, girlfriend, and wife.