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GuyBarry
1315257.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:09 am Reply with quote

Dix wrote:

May I point you to a series of posts in the original thread that you have not included in this thread:

[...]

And Suze replied post 1315031)
suze wrote:
Absolutely. I don't think Guy is deliberately misunderstanding, but he is misunderstanding all the same.


On the contrary, I included that precise quote in the opening post of the thread.

Suze went on to say, as per your quote:

suze wrote:
I've never actually met anyone who has that as her career goal, but I absolutely have met people who want to save lives in the less developed world as a doctor, fight injustices as a lawyer, save lives in Kent as a firefighter, make ten million pounds in the City and retire when they're 40, and all sorts of other things. By now, I've been in the job long enough that I've heard of young women that I taught who have been through university and are well on their way to achieving whatever it is.


And that's fine. Using examples of what people have genuinely achieved would seem to be a far better way of motivating them than creating fictitious examples of something that they almost certainly won't achieve.

If that's all that suze was trying to say then I'm in complete agreement with her. It was all this stuff about becoming Prime Minister or flying to Mars that I was taking issue with. I don't think it's realistic to have either of them as an ambition when you leave school, because there's no set-out career path to either of them.

There's a famous story - denied by him - that Michael Heseltine sketched
out his life's mission on the back of an envelope when he was an undergraduate: millionaire by 25, MP by 35, minister by 45, Downing Street by 55. He never made it to PM, of course. With the single exception of Gordon Brown, I can't think of a PM during my lifetime who was spoken about as a potential PM in advance of becoming party leader. And that includes Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Cameron and May. Politics is far too unpredictable a business for people to be able to "rise up through the ranks" as they might do in a more conventional job.

As for flying to Mars, there have been precisely seven British astronauts so far. The first six had to launch with Russian or American space programmes because the UK government has never developed a manned space flight programme. Tim Peake is so far the first and only UK government-funded astronaut. He left school in 1990 to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and subsequently trained as a helicopter pilot. I doubt very much whether he had any thoughts of going into space when he left school.

Quote:
Arguing about an opinion that you think someone holds leads to nowhere. The thing to do is to start with something like "you wrote xxx, I think it means yyy, could you please clarify" before you start attacking the yyy position.


That's a very good point, and I probably shouldn't have jumped to conclusions about what suze meant. Apologies for doing so.

Quote:
And thank you from removing this from the Sexism thread.


I've noted previously that the lack of an ability to create sub-threads is one of the most annoying features of most modern forum software. That's why my preference is to create a completely new thread (with links as necessary) rather than allowing a jumble of unrelated discussions in the original thread and hoping the moderators will sort it out.

 
PDR
1315277.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:43 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:

And that's fine. Using examples of what people have genuinely achieved would seem to be a far better way of motivating them than creating fictitious examples of something that they almost certainly won't achieve.


It's just expansive language to illustrate a point, like the use of hyperbole or even reducto itself - these are well established devices within our language that promote the communication of meaning beyond that which can be achieved by dry, boring literalism. Again, it's something you seem to have particular problems with, but I'd hate to see our wonderful language reduced to dull, uncommunicative prose simply because some choose to interpret every single word literally just to be argumentative.

Quote:

If that's all that suze was trying to say then I'm in complete agreement with her. It was all this stuff about becoming Prime Minister or flying to Mars that I was taking issue with. I don't think it's realistic to have either of them as an ambition when you leave school, because there's no set-out career path to either of them.


There is no "set out career path" to a heck of a lot of things people would like to do or be, but that's no reason not to aspire to them. Many people have an ambition to become a family with kids - there are numerous ways to achieve this (even ignoring routes like adoption and lone-parent insemination), but aside from the basic concept of getting a woman drunk enough to sleep with you there is no standard path to developing a coupleable relationship. Everyone finds their own route. Not everyone needs other people to spoon-feed their progression to them.

Quote:

With the single exception of Gordon Brown, I can't think of a PM during my lifetime who was spoken about as a potential PM in advance of becoming party leader. And that includes Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Cameron and May.


Sorry, but I don't accept that. As one who was in the labour party in the late 80s and considering a political career (for reasons I've bored people with previously) and I can personally attest that Tony Blair was very much talked of as a potential future PM at that time. He had been was touring the country, speaking at local party meetings and building the relationships that became his powerbase more or less from the day he entered parliament.

And Theresa May had been spoken of as a future PM for many years, especially after she became home sec. It's true that more people are "spoken of" as being future PMs than actually get there - good examples would include Hilary Benn and John Smith, while bad examples would include Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. But I think your point doesn't really stand much scrutiny.

Quote:

As for flying to Mars, there have been precisely seven British astronauts so far. The first six had to launch with Russian or American space programmes because the UK government has never developed a manned space flight programme.


The future resembles the past as water resembles water. Just because few british people HAVE made it into space doesn't mean that more won't in the future. Let's turn the question around - can you provide a specific reason why a graduate of Suze's school definitely WILL NOT fly to Mars, become PM or lead a theocratic revolution return the UK to the One True Path? Not a "probably won't", but an absolute "can't"? If your answer is "no" then it is not irresponsible to instil an ethos about striving for your dreams (IMHO)

Quote:
Tim Peake is so far the first and only UK government-funded astronaut. He left school in 1990 to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and subsequently trained as a helicopter pilot. I doubt very much whether he had any thoughts of going into space when he left school.


I could point you to quite a few american military pilots who chose to join the USAF/USN specifically BECAUSE they had wanted to become spacecraft pilots since conception [that's hyperbole, BTW]. I can also point you to several physicists, geologists, biologists and engineers who followed those educational routes whilst maintaining extreme degrees of physical fitness because they also want to be astronauts. If they don't make the final cut they won't feel they've changed, but will feel satisfied with what they have achieved so far, and comfortable in the knowledge that they gavce it their best shot.

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1315296.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:05 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:

It's just expansive language to illustrate a point


Unfortunately on this occasion it obscured the point rather than illustrating it, but never mind. I can see now that I was in basic agreement with what suze was saying, although I disagreed with her choice of examples.

Quote:

As one who was in the labour party in the late 80s and considering a political career (for reasons I've bored people with previously) and I can personally attest that Tony Blair was very much talked of as a potential future PM at that time. He had been was touring the country, speaking at local party meetings and building the relationships that became his powerbase more or less from the day he entered parliament.


Well that's very interesting, because he didn't have much of a public profile during the 80s as I recall. He joined Neil Kinnock's shadow ministerial team after the 1987 election, first as Shadow Minister for Trade, then joined the shadow cabinet as spokesman for energy (which I don't remember) and then for employment (which I vaguely remember).

But I don't recall him playing any significant part in the 1992 general election campaign. Butler and Kavanagh's definitive guide to the election mentions him a mere three times, in passing (the only one relating to the campaign itself is "Tony Blair was wrong-footed over the minimum wage by the proprietor of a day nursery"). He didn't really come to public prominence until he became Shadow Home Secretary under John Smith.

Had John Smith not suddenly died of a heart attack in 1994, there would have been no vacancy for the leadership of the Labour party. Assuming that Labour would have won the 1997 election under Smith (which seems
highly likely), it's probable that Gordon Brown would have become Chancellor and Blair Home Secretary. It's actually quite hard to see how Blair could have become PM in that scenario, because the likelihood is that Smith would have served at least two terms as PM, and the person best placed to succeed him was Brown. Blair's best chance of becoming Labour leader would probably have been after the Tories' next election victory, whenever that came. So he might very well never have made it to Downing Street if the Tories managed to consolidate their hold on power.

Quote:
And Theresa May had been spoken of as a future PM for many years, especially after she became home sec.


Again, she only got there because of a fluke. Had the referendum gone the other way David Cameron would almost certainly still be PM, and we'd be heading for a general election in 2020. He did say he was only going to serve two terms, but there's no way of knowing if she would have been a candidate for any possible leadership election.

Quote:
It's true that more people are "spoken of" as being future PMs than actually get there - good examples would include Hilary Benn and John Smith, while bad examples would include Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.


Hilary Benn still has a chance of leading the Labour party and becoming PM, so I wouldn't rule him out. John Smith is an exceptional case because he died before he had the chance to face the electorate (like Hugh Gaitskell before him).

But yes, in general it seems that if someone is heavily tipped as being the next party leader or next PM, then they almost certainly won't be. Michael Heseltine did not take over from Margaret Thatcher, and that ought to be a lesson for Boris Johnson or anyone else who thinks they can become leader by building up some sort of personality cult.

Quote:
Let's turn the question around - can you provide a specific reason why a graduate of Suze's school definitely WILL NOT fly to Mars, become PM or lead a theocratic revolution return the UK to the One True Path? Not a "probably won't", but an absolute "can't"?


No, of course I can't. There is a probability greater than zero that one of them will do so. However it's so close to zero that, for all practical purposes, it can be discounted.

Quote:
If your answer is "no" then it is not irresponsible to instil an ethos about striving for your dreams (IMHO)


I think that if someone is nursing ambitions of being PM at the age of 18 then they must be very ill-informed about what the post entails or how to achieve it. By all means aspire to enter politics by becoming a local councillor, or even an MP. But don't even think about becoming PM until you've served in Parliament for at least one term and preferably a lot longer. An 18-year-old school-leaver simply doesn't have the political experience to judge whether she might be a suitable candidate for PM or not.

 
PDR
1315302.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:48 am Reply with quote

We're not going to agree on this, Guy. It seems to me that you are more intent on telling people what they are allowed to aspire to, because they don't know whether they are suitable but apparently you do.

If you want to achieve anything of value you have to strive, and to risk failure. Ask anyone who has achieved anything of value and I'm sure they will confirm this. The one possible exception that I can think of would be some branches of academia, where there are structures which might still allow people to be pushed into the higher achievements by others, but I'm not sure even that's true these days.

It most certainly is NOT true that people cannot know what they want to do from an early age. A friend of mine is an oncologist - she's known that she wanted to be an oncologist since she was eight (she can put a date on it, because it's the day her mother died from breast cancer). The whole of her life since then was focused on achieving this. Of course she now has a better idea what being an oncologist actually means than she did when she was eight, but her intention to become one never wavered.

Another friend of mine wanted to become an airline pilot when he was six, and he also spent his ;life preparing for that career. He went through the whole thing up to ATPL and was doing line-training on A320s when he discovered that the actual job wasn't what he had imagined. But he didn't regard this as a failure because he'd discovered along the way that his *actual* dream job was flying small twins between impossibly restricted airstrips in Papua New Guinea. He's been doing this for over 20 years and still loves it, probably because it actually IS the job which he had imagined airline flying would be.

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1315305.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:04 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
We're not going to agree on this, Guy. It seems to me that you are more intent on telling people what they are allowed to aspire to, because they don't know whether they are suitable but apparently you do.


Where on earth did I say that? I dunno, people read some funny things into my posts.

It seems quite reasonable to aspire to be a politician, or even an MP (if you can find a safe seat). But if you want to become Prime Minister you're at the mercy of all sorts of political factors which are simply outside your control. If you were a Labour MP during the 1980s then you couldn't become Prime Minister, however hard you worked or however talented you were, because the Tories were in power. Ditto for Tory MPs between 1997 and 2010.

Politics isn't like other areas of achievement. You have to bow to the will of the electorate.

Quote:
It most certainly is NOT true that people cannot know what they want to do from an early age. A friend of mine is an oncologist - she's known that she wanted to be an oncologist since she was eight (she can put a date on it, because it's the day her mother died from breast cancer). The whole of her life since then was focused on achieving this.


Good for her. But if you become an oncologist you're not at risk of being thrown out of your job overnight because people voted for a different oncologist.

My comments were specifically about aspiring to be Prime Minister, not about aspiring to be an oncologist or an airline pilot. Once again it seems I've been misunderstood.


Last edited by GuyBarry on Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:24 am; edited 2 times in total

 
tetsabb
1315306.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:07 am Reply with quote

Once the small twins have grown up, does he trade them in for more small ones?
😉

 
tetsabb
1315308.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:30 am Reply with quote

One area of life where ambition and its achievement can be a problem is sport. Most sportspeople, it would appear, set themselves goals that for the most part are going to be achieved at quite a young age.
Usain Bolt, fregsample, won stupid amounts of gold medals by the time he was 30. He has tried to get a second career going as a footballist, but that seems to have foundered somewhat. He probably has another 30 or 40 years of productive life left, and I imagine he is still trying to decide what to do with himself.

A few years ago I saw a programme about Matthew Hoggard as he approached the end of his career in cricket. His wife was quite concerned about his lack of pre-planning for life after cricket. He steadfastly refused to answer the interviwer'sp questions on it, for sure. I see from wiki that he helps coach Leicestershire women's T20 team, and is in demand as an after-dinner speaker.

As a young man, one of my main ambitions was to have lots of sex. This has not been realized as much as I hoped.
I don't know what my dad had hoped for, but I think he was quietly proud of having brought up 2 pretty fine human beings and me. Possibly part of growing up is realising that you are not going to be Prime Minister or Olympic champion, but are going to have to do as good a job with what one has as possible. I like to think when my time comes I can look back and think that the world has been a better place for having me in it, and that I have not fucked up too much.

 
PDR
1315309.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:30 am Reply with quote

tetsabb wrote:
Once the small twins have grown up, does he trade them in for more small ones?
😉


In a very real sense, yes. Once they get more than 10,000hrs on the clock he loses all interest in them and chases after younger ones which don't have the saggy upholstery. This is just standard male behaviour, obviously...
😉

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1315313.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:48 am Reply with quote

@PDR: In post 1315235 you wrote:

Quote:
When we are at school we really shouldn't try to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives, not in detail at any rate. There will be a few exceptions, of course, but for most people as kids they simply can't know enough about the available opportunities and choices.


This is in direct contradiction to what you wrote in post 1315302 above. Have you really had a 180-degree change of opinion in such a short time?

 
crissdee
1315314.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:58 am Reply with quote

I think part of the problem here is focussing on the specific job of "Prime Minister" where (I imagine) suze was using that as an example of the absolute peak of a field of endeavour. She might just as well have said "Chairman of Barclays PLC" of "Manager of the England football team" i.e "aim for the top of your field and see how high you can go."

 
GuyBarry
1315316.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:10 pm Reply with quote

Indeed. Perhaps I should start a separate thread on "political ambition"?

 
suze
1315318.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:22 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
I may be about to take on a role (50% of my time) formally pushing this line across the global organisation, from early career and STEM promotion in schools through mid-career development to senior leader selection.


All power, as you say, to the QI Continuum! There's just one thing that worries me. If you're now going to be spending half your working life on getting the engineering profession to ask education for what it actually wants rather than what it thinks it wants, you're probably expecting me now to spend half of my working life ensuring that education provides it! I'll see what I can do ...


tetsabb wrote:
One area of life where ambition and its achievement can be a problem is sport.


Yes, absolutely. The career of a professional sportsperson is a short one. In many sports it is all but over by the age of 30, and I can think only of golf and snooker as sports where it goes on much beyond 40.

At one time the default for former professional footballers was to go into the public house trade, but that is mostly a thing of the past. A continued involvement in sport, either as a coach or as a broadcaster, is by now probably the default path for big name sportspeople - although Mr Bolt has suggested that it's not where he sees his future.

Especially in the less developed world, politics is a reasonably common choice. The current Prime Minister of Pakistan is the obvious example at the current time, but there have been quite a few footballists in African cabinets and a handful of cricketists in Caribbean cabinets.

The downside of that is that you do really have to live in your native less developed country to do it, and those who have made lots of money from their sport tend not to. Imran Khan lived mostly in London before he went into politics in Pakistan, and several of the big names of Caribbean cricket have their main homes in either London or Miami. I imagine that a lot of the better off African footballists live in France. But Mr Bolt does actually live in Jamaica and always has done, so don't rule it out.

 
PDR
1315326.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:33 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
@PDR: In post 1315235 you wrote:

Quote:
When we are at school we really shouldn't try to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives, not in detail at any rate. There will be a few exceptions, of course, but for most people as kids they simply can't know enough about the available opportunities and choices.


This is in direct contradiction to what you wrote in post 1315302 above. Have you really had a 180-degree change of opinion in such a short time?


Again, this insistence on literal interpretations which makes intelligent discussion so difficult. But if you want to be literal I would point out that it isn't a direct contradiction because the airline pilot and oncologist examples are exceptions, like I said there would be in the piece that you quoted. Although the airline pilot example illustrated how someone had one ambition which drove them to achieve another (ie it illustrates the point rather than contradicting it).

But of course the reality is that the remarks were in a different context. Your overall treatise is that ambition is a bad thing, and that instilling ambition in children is "irresponsible". This is what we will never agree on. Both of my posts which you have referenced provide illustrations of how people achieved things because they had the ambition to reach for it. The oncologist case is one where ambition to do a specific thing achieved it, the pilot example is where ambition drove someone to achieve something else.

And my own example was one where ambition drove me to the top of the near hill and opened my eyes to the hills beyond, giving me the ambition to climb each of those hills (and I have never stopped climbing). Without ambition you end up wasting your life in dead-end jobs and just become embittered about how everyone else let you down. That's not something I would wish on any child.

PDR

 
barbados
1315328.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:39 pm Reply with quote

[quote="GuyBarry"]
PDR wrote:
We're not going to agree on this, Guy. It seems to me that you are more intent on telling people what they are allowed to aspire to, because they don't know whether they are suitable but apparently you do.


Where on earth did I say that? I dunno, people read some funny things into my posts.

here
Or did you mean something else when you said
Quote:
Why kid your pupils into thinking that they can do something that almost certainly won't happen?

 
Alfred E Neuman
1315330.  Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:44 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
It seems quite reasonable to aspire to be a politician, or even an MP (if you can find a safe seat). But if you want to become Prime Minister you're at the mercy of all sorts of political factors which are simply outside your control.

Iím not sure how you believe that someone becomes the Prime Minister. Itís not by being a very good MP and making sure that there are no potholes in your constituency, itís about positioning yourself in the right place so that when an opportunity to advance within the ranks of your chosen party presents itself, youíre ready to grab it and climb the ladder. You very much have to have being the PM as your ambition or you will never be in that position. The fact that many others have the same ambition doesnít mean that you should just shrug and mooch along because itís statistically unlikely.

 

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