Filed under: Advertising, Education, Happiness, LGBT, Public Opinion, Youth | Tags: Advertising, Happiness, LGBT, Public Opinion, stonewall, Youth
Peace, love, goodwill to everyone – fine words at the end of a year which saw a surge in support for the BNP and a rise in homophobic attacks. It’s been a year of growing intolerance in the UK. Interesting then, digging around in the World Values Survey, to see that the world’s most tolerance societies are also the happiest.
It confirms some of our favourite country stereotypes: exuberant Latin American countries which embrace diversity, contrasted with former communist countries of eastern Europe – grim and intolerant. I pulled the data for people who said they were “very happy” and ran it alongside people who said that “homosexuality is never justifiable”. Here’s the results:
It’s all strangely affirming. The more tolerant countries – Sweden, Spain, Canada, Thailand – are the most happy. The more homophobic places – Poland, Ukraine, Russia – are more miserable. It’s a global truth: 92,000 people took the survey across the world, and among those who said that homosexuality is never justifiable, 25% said they were very happy; among those who said it was always justifiable, 31% were very happy. Stop the press: tolerant people are more happy.
Of course most of us knew this already: the question is, how do we tell the rest of them? Peace, love and goodwill are good for the soul – a difficult message to convey to someone struggling in harsh economic conditions, whether in Russia’s industrial wastelands or in Bradford. But it’s an important idealistic message: be happy, love your neighbour.
Stonewall’s campaign against homophobic bullying is a good start. “Some people are gay. Get over it” – in other words, the problem’s yours, deal with it. The campaign was developed by kids in schools, and has been a successful conversation starter. It’s a bold, challenging message – but what’s the emotional benefit? What’s in it for the bullies? We need a positive message as well, something to aspire to.
It will be interesting to see where Stonewall takes the campaign next. The World Values Survey shows that a quarter of Britons think homosexuality is “never justifiable”. This is less than the US (32%) and the world average (56%) – but still, 1 in 4 people is still a huge amount, and recent events suggest it’s on the increase. There’s clearly work for Stonewall to do.
NB. the last World Values Survey was completed in 2007. It’s is being repeated in 2010.
Filed under: Alcohol, Drugs, Economics, Education, Youth | Tags: Alcohol, digital, digital natives, Drugs, Education, lost generation, RSA, Youth, YouTube
A few of us from Mother went to the Lost Generation talk at the RSA last week, where the economist David Blanchflower warned of the “lull before the storm” in youth unemployment. Currently it’s 1 in 5, and set to rise. This is a big deal, he says: it could leave permanent social and economic damage on an entire generation.
Interesting to see the allergic reaction from Ruby Pseudo to the language of “lost generations”. Here she is, speaking up:
We have the tools; the abilities; the knowledge, to succeed in an increasingly digital world – we are fast thinking, forward thinking, adept and mobile. We are the net generation and, by that, the most powerful generation ever [and we’re the ones that are in trouble?!]
Ruby’s point is that the world of work needs to adapt to a generation with a different set of skills. It’s not just a macro economics question of job creation: as Miles Templeman of the Institute of Directors put it in the discussion after the talk, the old jobs are going, and they’re not coming back. The challenge is to find new ways of working, more flexible and engaging modes of employment.
All this sounds good, but something’s not right. Last week we spent a couple of hours talking to 16 year olds from local Hackney schools. None of them had a clue (or much interest) in what happens when school finishes – let alone any ideas about the future. These are the kids that the President of the National Union of Students Wes Streeting focused on during the talk – the ones at risk of real, lasting social exclusion, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.
When we asked them what would be their ideal job, there was a pretty clear answer: testing computer games. It made me think of Steve Johnson’s book Everything Bad Is Good For You: the technology/media/culture environment young people are growing up in is teaching them to new cognitive skills – skills which aren’t being engaged by the world of work.
If the way that young peoples minds work is changing, shouldn’t the world of school change too? Instead, we have an epidemic of Ritalin prescription in this country – in some towns, as many as one in seven children under 16 are prescribed Ritalin (source). This is the lost generation: thousands of young people being pathologised for the convenience of doctors, teachers and parents.
It’s the good old Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants generation gap. It’s not just the world of work that needs to change, the world of learning does too. As the US group Partnership for 21st Century Skills puts it, “today’s education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn”.
Before we start getting all “Learning 2.0″, let’s get some perspective. We asked the 16 year olds we met what they’re looking at on YouTube at the moment: as one of them said, “I just type in FUNNY SHIT and see what happens”. We thought we’d entertain ourselves and our clients by running together a montage of the clips they talked about…. LYAO!
“Dole Street” image grabbed from David Blanchflower’s RSA Presentation. Any YouTube copyright infringements unintentional!