The archaic family unit is not a necessity for social mobility.

Literally two minutes ago, I finished reading an article by Keith Kendrick for the Daily Mail entitled ‘The key to social mobility is having a devoted and determined family’. ( Of course, this is the Daily Mail so I wasn’t exactly holding my breath for enlightening discourse on the subjects of opportunity and education.

However, this patronising article portrays an archaic but beloved attitude in this country. One which is vicarious in its nature, and self-deprecating when truly observed. Kendrick argues that the sole reason why he managed to escaped a life of relative poverty and move up to the dazzling heights of writing for The Mail (No that is not an oxymoronic sentence!) is because of the strong family unit and the strength of his parents’ work ethic.

I think that the example set to Kendrick by his parents was exceptional, and if replicated throughout the country, would prove immensely beneficial to social mobility. However, I think that Kendrick misses the point. By a country mile.

It matters not who is responsible for setting an example. There are plenty of families out there broken through circumstances and situations unimaginable to Kendrick. An alternative to this old-fashioned breadwinner, family unit needs to be proposed in order to achieve real social mobility. Communities need to organise, educate and set examples to their youngest members. Local councils should be encouraging extra-curricular activities aimed at improving standards not merely educationally, but also to increase links between and inside communities. A family unit is all well and good, but the simple fact is this; there are families out there that for some reason or another do not lead by example. There are families out there that cannot work, and cannot read, and do not engage in community projects, and do not lead by example. Should the children of these families immediately be set aside, never to escape from the life in which they were accidentally born into?

This seems to me (and to most people) ridiculous. I am happy for Keith Kendrick. He was lucky enough to have wonderful parents who helped and guided him. What he must always remember is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people like him, who weren’t so lucky. Who did not have the opportunity. These people deserved to escape poverty just as much as he, and children should never, ever be subjected to criticism or ignorance purely because of the actions of their parents. Community action and involvement is the true way in which these children can enjoy the opportunities of Mr. Kendrick.

Nico Leon.


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