Long-standing readers will know that my respect for state education is pretty low. I've written extensively - from experience - about how poor some of its priorities appear to be. I'm not going to bore you again, just go click the education tag for back story.
But this week presented a very ugly deja vue experience, which I first described in 2010.
Arrived back home and the boy (9), who has just decided to get into football, was watching the England match. After a few minutes the crowd started singing the national anthem so I hummed along. A mad thought entered my head ...
Did he know the words? No.
Did he know what the tune was? No.
Did he know it was the anthem of our country? Well, he had heard it before matches during the World Cup but ... err, that's it.
Asking downstairs, the same responses from the girl (10).
How fucking shit is that?
A tip for new or prospective parents. Don't expect state education to teach your kids anything. Instead, assume the worst and do it yourself.My point back then was that you would expect them to be taught the basics, Lord knows we pay enough for it.
I've left it mostly alone since, but - in the week following Remembrance Sunday - they have both been given homework (from two different schools) related to some guy who they instantly know as being called Siddartha Gutama.
I had a very good education, and am the go-to guy when things get a bit tough for their (pretty paltry, it has to be said) homework. But I don't know the guy.
Turns out he's an icon of the Buddhist faith.
So I asked a very simple question, you would think, of a 13 and nearly 12 year old in Britain. Do they know the words of the Lord's Prayer which was said during last Sunday's ceremony?
I even gave them the first three lines.
They not only didn't know the words, they had never even heard of it.
But they are both intimately knowledgeable about some guy who lived two and a half thousand years ago and is followed by just about no-one in this country.
Listen, I'm not religious in the slightest, despite Irish ancestry, but surely the Lord's Prayer should be at the forefront of religious education in a state which is supposed to be a little bit CofE? You know, having a Queen which is the head of state and the church, and all? How in buggery have they not been taught of the Lord's Prayer's existence after 8 or 9 years of state education, yet they know all about Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam and even the primary Buddha as if they're chums?
I despair sometimes, I really do.
* If you came here thinking I'd be discussing this irrelevance, then my changing the title from "Our Father, Who Art In Asia" wasn't a complete waste of time, after all.