One of my favourite kinds of speaking event that I do are school prize-givings. They are happy affairs, my talk is short, and after that I just have to smile a lot and shake a lot of hands. Grip-and-grin is the technical term. It’s best not to calculate the amount of teenage germs on my right hand after a couple of hundred handshakes.
After doing plenty of these at schools up and down the land, I have made some consistent observations about the youth of today in Great Britain:
- Not many say thank you
- Eye contact and smiles are rare
- Shirts are untucked
- Handshakes are feeble
I have also repeatedly noticed these characteristics, right across the geographical and economic spectrum of the schools I have been invited to:
- Kids are awesome
- They put in so much effort
- They take real pride in achieving
- There’s loads of humour and fun and camaraderie in school life
- Plenty of hard work too
- Their days at school are so busy and full
- A strong sense of community, and a pride in that community
- Young people are ambitious and thrive when given the opportunity
- Their dancing is amazing when given the opportunity
- Their music is amazing when given the opportunity
- Their art and creativity is amazing when given the opportunity
- Their sporting feats are amazing when given the opportunity
- The expeditions they do are amazing when given the opportunity
The youth of today are awesome. I feel so sorry for those who fall through the cracks and miss out on the chance to fulfil their potential.
Congratulations to all the parents and teachers who give young people these opportunities to do brilliant stuff.
This is why I love speaking at prize-givings. They are really inspiring events. Plus, I actually get to be on stage at a prize-giving – something I never managed when I was actually at school!