Can we stop millennial bashing?
Can we stop millennial bashing? At one point in time, however distant that may feel, when there was no news (or at least people got bored of talking about Brexit) it was the moment for multiple media outlets to start publishing various articles detailing the sins of the youth – bracketed under the catchall of ‘millennials’. However, with the dawn of COVID-19, it appears that this practice has resurfaced, with articles detailing how millennials refuse to stay inside, how millennials place us all in danger, or how millennials continue to destroy the planet with online shopping from within quarantine – at least the few that are left inside.
While some may have thought that the apparent distance between us and ‘the younger years’ may have finished when we left school, these articles exist to remind us that this is not the case. So, briefly, while I may not be a millennial (between 24-39 years old), I shall endeavour to reply to the multitude of Karens and Kenneths who continue to blame the world and its problems on us. Without further ado, here it is: it’s not just us, and it certainly isn’t all of us. And more than any other generation, ours is characterised by a desire to change the world – and the actions to back it up. So, while – like everyone else – we have our lapses, let’s not forget how extraordinary the ‘youth’ (be they millennials, Gen Z or other) are.
Imagine if celebrities did more.
The last three weeks (and the three likely to come) have seen celebrities all over the world showcasing what they can to alleviate the boredom and general despair felt across the globe in the wake of ‘Ms. Rona’. While some (I’m looking at you John Krasinski) are doing a wonderful job, some such attempts are falling incredibly flat. Gal Gadot found herself at the brunt of backlash following a performance of Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, with what seemed like almost the entirety of Twitter stony-faced at the ‘tone-deaf’ initiative. Comments from Justin Bieber yesterday about recognising his privilege but unable ‘to feel bad about’ it because he, his wife Hailey Bieber, and their friend Kendall Jenner have ‘worked hard for where they’re at’ left many a fan base somewhat gobsmacked, given that Bieber is the only one of that trio lacking a famous family.
Perhaps the most hilarious (if pretty horrifying) was Vanessa Hudgens, albeit several weeks back, calling lockdown ‘a bunch of b******’ and telling her 38 million followers ‘yeah…people are gonna die…terrible but kind of inevitable?’. The Disney Channel star has since apologised for the comments – but the sourness of the celebrity situation for many remains. There is zero comparison to be made between this experience for millionaires and those in most in need. Donations would likely be of far more use that Instagram live entertainment.
How a pandemic may lead to multilingualism.
In the absence of typical forms of entertainment in the UK, there has been a surge in the general public seeking alternative methods of making lockdown less dull. A particularly popular choice has been language learning. Duolingo has reported an increase in sign-ups of an astonishing 148%, an all-time high for the company. Other language learning apps have reported similar upward spikes. Among the most popular language courses for English speakers we find German, Spanish, and French; perhaps many users are trying to revive a rusty GCSE.
This surge in language learning demonstrates an interest among the British public to expand their cultural and linguistic knowledge. Being isolated from the wider world is the push we need to learn more about it. Stereotypically, the language teaching in English schools facilitates passing exams rather than bilingualism. Whereas schools in other European countries have made English, among other languages, a staple of everyday schooling from a young age, our lacklustre attempts at language learning start too late. This has given the impression of being disinterested and reluctant to expand our knowledge.
The growing popularity in learning languages at home is a promising sign that dispels the idea of Britain being averse to speaking other tongues. It is a commentary on how our daily lives often do not allow the time to expand knowledge and the substandard language teaching in many schools. As the saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and this indeed shows that Britain is pining for global connections and culture.
A fresh start for Labour.
Following his election as Labour leader on Saturday, Keir Starmer set about appointing his Shadow Cabinet. It’s something of a unity cabinet, with figureheads of the Corbyn era sacked or demoted, and both leadership rivals given important jobs. This is a quietly confident team, brimming with talent and effective media performers, keen to leave behind the tensions and rivalries of the Corbyn years and work with the government to confront this perilous moment in history. Nor is this a restoration of the famous faces of the Blair and Brown years. In fact, Starmer’s top team is remarkable in its anonymity – big names tipped for promotion, such as Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn, have been left on the backbenches. The exception, of course, is former Labour leader Ed Miliband, now Shadow Business Secretary.
It’s a fresh-faced Shadow Cabinet, too: the leader and deputy leader, Angela Rayner, haven’t been in Parliament for even five years, and Annaliese Dodds, the new Shadow Chancellor, less than three. It’s important that the Opposition have undergone this rejuvenation, after ten years of the same familiar figures running the country. And, as the coronavirus crisis intensifies, the role of this new-look Opposition in scrutinising the government is more important than ever – and it may just save lives.
Covid-19 and the UK’s response to GCSE and A-levels.
There are many things we could criticise our current government for with regard to the response in the pandemic crisis but, I feel the most valid of them all are ones regarding our core educational systems.
I don’t believe cancelling exams was the right choice. People more often than not exceed their predicted grades or do significantly worse – exams are very circumstantial. We have all had surprises on results day. Many people do not reach their ultimate aptitude until weeks if not days before an exam. And alongside all of this, thousands of children will be left with results which are not truly theirs and, in most cases, not what they truly deserve or have been working for. Perhaps, once upon a time ‘school cancelled’ would have been a dream come true, but this is certainly not the case for the current adolescents trapped in the cancelled system.
Amidst all this, university students have been left in the dark with many universities taking on measures which are far more advantageous to those at other Universities! This leaves the question of stability of whether our education system, which is fuelling the next generation of government leaders, is robust enough?