Although I absolutely adore all of the brilliantly batty (or, should I say bratty) children on Outnumbered (BBC1), Sam Wollaston may have a point about the reality of today’s children and their parents. I would definitely agree that what makes the series so good is that it is, in fact, a spot on snapshot of a typical middle-class family. The clever use of improvisation and allowing real opinions to be voiced with little to no censoring is what I love most about it.
I do hope that the show, although highly entertaining, will help parents re-evaluate what it means to parent (especially those that can identify with the Brockmans). Unfortunately, the lack of respect for parents and elders, or anyone in general, is starting to become a universal theme. Why are parents so afraid to “parent” anymore? Are children nowadays really that different from when we were growing up? Or is it just that society is becoming far too lenient when it comes to disciplining our children?
We have become so overly concerned with using “positive” words or making children feel good about themselves when sometimes a bit of honesty or constructive criticism may actually save them from bigger trouble in the future. It would definitely save parents a lot of headache and heartache later on.
My favourite quote is from Series 1, Episode 2, when Pete, played by Hugh Dennis, gets into trouble for a “racist” remark made toward a slightly overweight Turkish boy. As the poor chap was stuffing yet another packet of crisps into his mouth, Pete apparently said to him, “You could do with Ramadan lasting all year round, couldn’t you Kamal?” I thought that line was fantastic! I don’t see anything racist about that, actually (and am sick of people throwing around the word racist when it’s not appropriate). In fact, it shows that Pete is aware of different religions and that he is concerned about the boy’s health. Although I would’ve gone about it in a different way, my point is, why do teachers have to dance around core issues at hand for fear of offending someone?
The episode also reminded me of when I asked one of my student’s parents if they had their child read at home. They said that he only likes to play play video games and they did not want to upset him by making him study or read. I suggested that they “encourage” him to read for 30 minutes a day to help improve his reading. Their response was, “Oh we have, but he doesn’t listen to us. He just yells at us to shut up.” Their response wasn’t surprising, but the fact that I had to be so careful with what I said and use the word “encourage” was rather annoying. The fact is, their child is reading way below his expected reading level. Am I the only who cares?
Perhaps what I should have said was, “If you continue to allow your child to play all day and never force him to study or read (and allow him to talk back to you like that), then you could end up with a partially illiterate child. He could grow up to tyrannise you because you were too soft on him and you will have nobody to blame but yourself.” Of course, I would never say anything like that, but again, I think you see my point.
Series 3 is expected to air this week! It’s really a gem of a show and I hope if you haven’t seen it yet that you’ll give it a chance.