Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)



IWAS wandering around the United States in the summer of 1970. It was a life-changing experience for me, and part of that sunny memory is the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

That summer, their album Teach Your Children was released and its timeless energy still captivates me today. Neil Young’s lyrics still echo.

I think the lyrics caught my attention because, at the time, I was training to be a teacher. The song starts with the words, “You who are on the road,” and I have always thought of myself as a pilgrim.

I do not use the word pilgrim in the religious sense, but simply how this life of ours takes a curious linear route. More than 50 years later I find myself still staggering along that slippery pilgrim trail. Some days are warm and sunny, others damp, cold and slippery.

My question, in the chilly early morning light, is do we teach our children well? Looking across the fractured landscape of our rapidly changing society, I think that is a legitimate question to ask.

I was chatting to a friend recently and he commented on the way things are today. I quoted LP Hartley’s unsettling comment in his book The Go Between suggesting that the past is a foreign country and they do things differentl­y there!

The world is very different from those seemingly carefree days of the sixties and seventies. Watching my grandchild­ren navigate their school days makes me appreciate how much has changed.

That suggestion from Graham Nash that we should teach our children well is a benchmark for me. What sort of platform is being built, and is it one that seeks the greater good?

Wandering along my little pilgrim trail has produced many interestin­g observatio­ns and revelation­s. I seek the things that might help build a better platform for our young people as they go through life.

A few years ago, I volunteere­d as a trustee at Grenville House Outdoor Education Centre in Brixham. Grenville House is a residentia­l facility, on the water’s edge not far from the lifeboat station. The former chair of Torbay Coast & Countrysid­e Trust once told me he loves the sound of young voices enthusiast­ically participat­ing in the many exciting activities.

Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, rafting, abseiling and the challengin­g high-ropes course build lifelong memories. I was talking about Grenville House at a Torbay Business Network breakfast, and one chap said his children had gone there on a residentia­l course. They were primary age at the time and still talk about it often as adults! That seems to me to be teaching children well.

In a world dominated by flickering screens, social media platforms and endless computer games, places like Grenville House are so important. Grenville House is a happy place and an ideal environmen­t for young people to share a residentia­l away from home week.

Nash also suggests the children can teach their parents and I see that as a truth. I certainly seem to be learning from my grandchild­ren!

If you happen to be walking from Brixham town centre toward the lifeboat station do listen to the laughter and feel the excitement spreading out from Grenville House.

It certainly helps me to keep the smile.

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