4 comments on “Winners and Losers

  1. As a fan of language I have been fascinated by the tone of the coverage of the elections. It does appear that someone in the BBC has pointed out that there will be those watching who don’t usually watch sport and so they should make the presentation more accessible. This has led to Heat magazine style reporting at times with black and white use of language.
    This means that the sports news is either of a funereal or ecstatic tone with no shades in between. Not only is this poor journalism and lazy linguistically, it further plays to the issue you have identified.

    • I wonder if you meant ‘Olympics’ rather than ‘elections’ Bill, but the same principle applies! Another result of this kind of simplistic reporting of course is that it puts enormous pressure on athletes to win medals, even when all the evidence points to it being an unlikely outcome. It wouldn’t do any of them any harm to go and read Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’.

  2. Something else that has struck me: How long until there is a call for some form of Inquiry into Team GB’s performance (or lack of it?). I’ve already heard talk of the decisions made about funding having gone where it would have most impact… and the thing that strikes me so hard about this is that, when the inevitable inquest begins, everyone, and I mean everyone, will forget the basic principle on which the Olympics were founded:

    L’important dans la vie ce n’est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l’essentiel ce n’est pas d’avoir vaincu mais de s’être bien battu.
    The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
    — Pierre de Coubertin

    This is as true for education as it is for the Olympics, yet we all become so convinced of the necessity to ‘win’ or to ‘pass’ that we forget that the important thing is what we have achieved on the journey.

    The single minded emphasis on ‘results’ – be they Gold medals or Highers – diminishes us as human beings… because these results are ultimately irrelevant. They will be surpassed in the next games, the next exams, the next set of business results… all that really matters, is what we learned on the way.

    As a final point, I love the Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger — How much better than a result-centric Fastest, Highest, Strongest. How often do we apply that thought when the results come out?

    • Agree completely Neil. I think we have all experienced the wrong-headed thinking which led to an obsession with targets in education, and thankfully we are beginning to see a retreat from that position. By coincidence, Kenny Pieper has written an excellent blogpost this week on the damage which can be done in schools by focusing too narrowly on exam results.

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