12 May 2021
I have my gorgeous oldest grandson with me again today, and keeping an active 2 year old entertained is a non stop rollercoaster of building blocks, play dough, chalk, rocks and rubbish trucks. As well as puzzles, train tracks, books, and diggers.
Eventually, Grandma will succumb to the temptation of twenty minutes sitting quietly on the couch having a cuddle, while young Mr G’s attention is diverted with a little video from YouTube. Usually it’s rubbish trucks, or fire engines, or diggers and the like. Today I managed to find a video, ostensibly one to teach children their colours, featuring some toys (reminiscent of Toy Story possibly) who organise a race track for all the toy cars to have a proper race.
There’s jumps, there’s a loop, there’s a slippery slope and bridges to make the car race more entertaining. Each of the six specifically coloured cars enjoy their turn of being in the lead at some point of the race, but ultimately there can only be one winner, right?
Nope. Dead heat. They all won.
It’s a familiar ploy in a lot of children education stuff, it seems. It’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. Of course, we are all winners anyway. Kids get certificates nowadays for simply taking part, trophies for turning up for a season at a particular sport, and so forth. It is a great way of teaching them that sport is a fun activity to make friends and get exercise. It’s not about winning – it’s about being involved.
And then they grow up, and all that great early education goes out the window.
The Olympic Games are just around the corner once again, hopefully. Will this be another example of my YouTube video, teaching all the children of the world that the sheer joy of representing your country at a particular sport, is all that matters?
As if. It’s about the medals, baby. The shinier, the better. We keep tallies of how our country is doing, and we compare ourselves constantly with not only other countries, but also with our own country in previous years.
We have high expectations of our athletes. Some we know will be able to hold their head up as being the best in their country at a particular sport, and isn’t it a huge moment for them to represent their country against other countries??? (Which means, of course, that we don’t have any expectation of them getting anywhere near a medal).
Then there are the athletes that have a reasonable chance of winning a medal. We get very excited if they do, and also disappointed in a polite way if they don’t, while making suppositions about whether the other country who beat them might be drug cheats.
A gold medal race might be won by the tiniest fraction of a second, but it’s that fraction of a second that will make the difference to that athlete, and the millions of supporters back in their home country.
They wouldn’t allow all the sprinters in the 100m race to run a dead heat. It’s not a children’s education show, after all. They would work out that someone’s eyelash extended over the line a millionth of a second before one of the others.
I hope my grandson won’t be watching the Olympics. All that winning and losing is going to confuse him.