I am by nature a glass half full type. My late father used to say that, ‘all my geese are swans’, which I think was his typically cryptic way of saying that I see the best in everyone. I struggle to take life too seriously and take a rather philosophical view of reports of oncoming apocalyptic threats. In fact the experience of my 23 years in education has been that the young people I teach are more disciplined, better educated and more likely to take their studies seriously than was the case when I started in schools and when I was a scallywag school boy myself. I sometimes think that I must be naïve, especially when I hear the gloomy and negative rhetoric from our politicians or from our media outlets. I understand the old newspaper adage of, ‘if it bleeds it leads’ but some good news, sometimes, would be refreshing.
Last year the ONS’s (Office for National Statistics) measure of national well-being rose to its highest level since the survey started in 2012. The ONS surveys about 150,000 people every year, asking, on a scale of 0 to 10, whether respondents are satisfied with their lives, whether they feel the things they do are worthwhile and how happy or anxious they felt yesterday. All of these measures except anxiety have steadily improved since 2012. A longer running series, from the Resolution Foundation, shows that the proportion of people who say they are very or fairly satisfied with their life stands at 93%, the highest level since the series started in the mid-1970s. With all this in mind it is strange that so many of us, content though we are with our own lots, are convinced that the world around us is going to hell in a handcart. It would be nice, as we head into a general election, if our political class and media gave us reasons to be cheerful, rather than reasons to be fearful. We can only hope!
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