Fr Jeremy's Topic - Maidenhead Advertiser 12th Oct 2017
I heard a pastoral priest say this week that the Christian faith is not a religion but is rather about relationships. At a meeting for headteachers, governors and clergy we looked at the relationships we might forge and the rewards we may find in schools and churches. One of the questions we were posed was ‘Is it a good time to be growing up as a young person in the 21st century? ‘
The group I was in contained two headteachers, a governor and a Bishop and we struggled to find positives for young people today. We were aware of increased pressures on young people, a rise in cases of mental health issues, student debts, family fragmentation and modern technology and communication that have negatives as well as positives.
It was clear however that there were no young people present answering this question for themselves so I went to Altwood School to discover what students there thought and I was pleasantly surprised. The students viewed the 21st century as a better time to live than the 20th when people experience World Wars and the loss of millions of lives in atrocious circumstances. Some students too, perhaps influence by Lord Sugar thought that the return to apprenticeships where people can learn skills on the job was a good thing.
It was technology and modern communication that interested students as they valued the opportunities to gain information and knowledge, communicate with people from around the world, and share their artwork and poetry online. They were aware too of the problems such as online bullying and miss-communication that they could encounter.
One student who still valued face to face communication said ‘imagine a man working with his head down, looking in to the screen of his phone. Walking in the opposite direction, is a woman who fails to catch his attention. The student continued ‘But what if the man is looking up without a phone and hears the woman ask for directions which leads to a conversation and a cup of coffee at a shop and friendship.’
Thank you, students of Altwood for sharing a more positive view of modern day living than some of us imagined.
The Rev’d Jeremy Harris, Vicar of All Saints, Boyne Hill