This was a rough version of a talk I gave at the Create Skills event. I need to do a list of credits for all the pictures and bits of art work I have cut and pasted and used to illustrate the points. http://eyeseyeseyes.wordpress.com/
The Olympics will not be televised Createskills December 2010 email@example.com
A few years ago I did some research withDemos and A New Direction, looking atwhat the Olympics meant to young peoplein London.This became a small report called TheBiggest Learning Opportunity on Earth.
During the research we met youngpeople in schools across East London.They tended to think two things aboutthe Olympics.That it was about sport.And that you watch it on the telly.
When I tell people that I’m working on anOlympic education project, their eyes tend toglaze over. This isn’t fair. The Olympics areinteresting for four reasons.
First, the Olympics are about stories ofLondon...
During the Olympics the whole world will look atLondon. People across the world will makejudgements about the city based on what theysee and experience. This means that London hasto tell a story about itself - you will see this inthings like the Opening Ceremony, in a CulturalFestival and the Olympic Festival. For those of usin London it’s a chance to explore all the differentstories that make up the city today, the storiesthat bought us here and the stories we share incommon. For curious people it’s a chance tothink about whether the story London ispresenting to the world is the right one and if itreﬂects us all in the right way.
Second, the Olympics are about connections tothe world
The Olympics brings people together fromacross the world and puts them in one place.This is what makes it different from other majorsporing events, like The World Cup. TheOlympic Games connects the world and indoing so encourages us to explore what thoseconnections mean. What do we have to learnfrom people in other cultures? What struggles,hopes and fears do we share with them? Whatideas, objects and tools have we alreadyshared with them? Curious people will want toexplore the difference between the Olympicpromise of a more harmonious, peaceful worldand the world as we actually know it.
The Olympics changes the face of a city. Ahuge zone needs to be rebuilt to make room forthe the athletes, the media and the stadiums.Transport links to the site need to be improved- and across the city all development projectsare rushed forward, ready for the capital’s bigmoment. There are new buildings and locationsto explore and new ways to see the city.Curious people will be interested to see whobeneﬁts from changes and will wonder whetherthe type of city they want to live in, is the typeof city that is emerging from Olympics.
Finally, the Olympics are about dreams ofsomething better.
The Olympics are a dream of a more perfect,equal, harmonious world. That’s why we likethem. But the larger they grow the harder it isto keep them separate from the imperfect,unequal, and messy real world we live in.Dreams though, are still important. They are thestarting point for something to happen, thatotherwise would not have been possible. That’swhy it’s important to remember dreams. Whichmeans we need to express them. And we needartists to express them too. The Olympics arean opportunity to explore, express and collectyour dreams and the dreams of others.
Stories of LondonConnections to the WorldThe Changing CityDreams of Something Better
Culture, the arts, music etc tend to dothree things for the Olympics. Theyprovide decoration for the games tomake the site and its buildings lookbeautiful. They provide (free)entertainment for lots of people -including those who might not be able toget in to the games. And they alsoprovide a way for people to explore theand what they mean. That is what theenquiry schools programme at A NewDirection is currently about.
Now, London’s Olympics were won on apromise to young people...
“Seb Coe has made it clear that theLondon 2012 Games is all about the youngpeople of the world. Heʼs keen that throughthe curiosity, energy and creativity oftodayʼs youth, our country can reach out toother nations in the spirit of friendship andsharing. You will be at the heart of that."
- it probably means more than a kid in theopening ceremony.
A legacy for young people should mean that, asa result of the London Olympics, young peoplehave oppotunities to explore their city in waysthey couldn’t before. To do things and toimagine things that were previously impossible.The Olympics makes cities shinier, and itmakes runners faster - it should make youngpeople’s horizons wider. This means exploring.Exploring new spaces, different identities,different types of work, new ways to makedifference and understanding their place andposition in the world.
The Olympics is so far down the tracks now andthere are so many people involved in so manydifferent ways it’s hard to get a handle on it. But indifferent places and in different ways you can seewhere the games is making things happen for youngpeople in this way. I think it’s in our work. It was inthe outcry that stopped the cuts to school sportsfunding. It’s in Andy Miah’s campaign for a moreopen media. It’s in the Somewhereto project, it’s inthe Create festival, its in the 5 Borough’sConvergence strategy and it’s in Ruth Mackenzie’scall to create real opporutnities for young peopleaccross London. And many other places.
Making this work matters - not just for youngpeople but for future Olympic Cities, for the UKCity of Culture, for Glasgow’s CommenwealthGames and all other cities who will host majorevents in the hope they can improve youngpeople’s lives.
I spent much of last year writing about thefuture of politics from a young person’sperspective.
Around this time a string of books werepublished that raised the question of‘generational justice’
These writers argued that the country isskewed towards the interests of the babyboomers - in a nutshell: they enjoyed cheaphousing in their youth and how they haveaccess to a vastly improved NHS and fatpensions.
I was uncomfortable with this idea. If youbelieve in families - in all their forms - whichmost of us do, then we would also expect themto share wealth with their children. I felt like‘blaming the baby-boomers’ was just aslapdash way of blaming the wealthy andgetting worries about the environment. I still do- but the cuts and the atmosphere surroundingthem is starting to feel like we are in agenerational struggle - e.g. education (largelyfor the young) is cut while health (largely for theold) is kept.
It’s an important time for this country to show itcares about the next generation.
The Olympics will not be televised. The olympics will be live. Createskills December 2010 firstname.lastname@example.org