Friday, 21 August 2015

The Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Hi all! On Sunday, and then again yesterday, I undertook a Summer ritual which has been a part of every August since I was a child, the Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe, sometimes called the Edinburgh Festival is the worlds biggest arts festival, bringing hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Edinburgh every August for 3 and a half weeks of comedy, music, performance, art, song, dance, food and entertainment. 

With quite literally thousands of things to see and do, and a lot of them either free, or much cheaper than usual, it's always a good way see performance in intimate settings or previewing new material. This year, my choices seemed to specialise in female comedians - I saw Katherine Ryan, Laura Lexx and Mae Martin all doing stand-up. I'm sure you all know who Katherine Ryan is, but if you don't know Laura or Mae, you absolutely need to check them out. Before you go any further with this blog post, click their names for a little cross section of their comedy. Thank you, now we can continue!

While I adore comedy, I hadn't actually seen any live stand-up until about 5 years ago. I believe that stand-up comedy is a highly underrated art form though, can you imagine how difficult it must be to stand up front of a group of people with only you to make them laugh and nobody to bounce off of? I find it incredible to watch, even more so in person.

As well as seeing these amazing shows discussing important topical social issues like the much-disputed gender spectrum, #BlackLivesMatter and the internal battle of wanting to be a 'good feminist' and the desire to be a housewife, the buzz of Edinburgh during the Fringe is like nothing else. Every street you go down has something happening, the streets are full of performers, art & craft markets, street food and just generally, Summery positive vibes. 

As so much to do and see is completely free, I do recommend planning your time well and getting to venues/shows early and please oh please, if you enjoyed a free show, give a little to the performers. Do you know just how many performers actually loose money by coming to the festival? The money for travel and accommodation doesn't come from people taking advantage of free shows, and as Mae Martin said, people are paying upwards of £10 to see Ted 2 at the cinema right now. Think about it like that! 

I'm lucky to live only a little over an hour away from Edinburgh on the bus and can get there and back for under a tenner (if you're thinking of going, MegaBus all the way!) but even if you don't, I can't recommend both Edinburgh as a city, but especially the Edinburgh Fringe highly enough. Rich in Scottish culture (not that I'm biased or anything!), arts and beautiful scenery and buildings, what's stopping you?

Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Topics We Need To Educate Young People On

Last Thursday evening, a programme aired on Channel 4 called 'Sex In Class'. It featured world renowned Dutch sexologist, Goedele Liekins coming to Britain and educating a group of teenagers about the realities of sex, not the glamourised porn version of it that young people are lead to believe is how it always is. Newsflash, it isn't. 

The programme wasn't perfect (very heteronormative and didn't once mention pregnancy, contraception, STI's or asexuality)  but it did highlight just how flawed the UK's sexual education system is and how ill informed our youths as a whole are. You can watch the programme here, or read the lovely Olivia Jade's post on it here if you missed it. Sadly though, it's not just inclusive, thorough and realistic sexual health education that our education system lacks, there's huge important areas of adult (and teenage) life that school just does not prepare us for. Here's just 5 topics that we need to be teaching young people in the classroom...

Mental Health
In addition to sexual health, the school curriculum needs to make room for mental health education too. When I was at school, I know people who suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder and my school didn't once, in six years of education, mention any of those illnesses, what they involve, what to do if you think you might be suffering from them or how to help a someone else who suffers with them. Both mental health issues amongst young people and the stigmatisation of mental health are at an all time high and getting people talking about these topics as openly and honestly as possible needs to be top priority. 

First Aid
The extend of first aid that I ever learned at school was extremely basic CPR (without dummies, just 'CPR theory' if you will!) and that was in primary school. It was very minimal and I can remember none of it. Knowing that to do in a medical emergency is so important and schools need to be teaching young people about administering CPR, how to give the Heimlich manoeuvre, how to put someone into the recovery position, what to do if someone goes into labour or how to help someone having a fit, seizure, stroke or heart attack are crucial. I cannot see how this isn't a completely compulsory part of education? 

Inclusive History/Social Studies
How often were your history or social studies lessons about white men? How often is the national news about white men? That is not a coincidence. While it'd be impossible to teach children about every historical event that's ever taken place, a more varied and inclusive cross section wouldn't go a miss. When our history lessons feature nobody female or gay or of any racism background apart from white, there's a problem. 

Most teenagers believe that money and a job just kind of come to you and that whatever happens, you'll probably be okay financially. For some people, this is true, but from the security of being at school and often being paid to be there to adult life of potential unemployment, benefits, taxes, mortgages, bills and insurance, our education system does not prepare teens for the financial pressures and responsibilities of real life. I really believe that teaching young people the basics of the above as well as how banking works, how to budget, what to do if you're a victim of fraud and just what exactly a hedge fund is (plot twist : no hedges were harmed in the making of this blog post!) would not only benefit their own lives, but their careers and the economy as a whole.

All my school ever covered in regards to politics was how voting systems work and the very basic ideas of what the main political parties concern themselves with. Given that it has been 8 years since I left school and in that time, there have been massive political changes in Scotland, perhaps political education has improved since then too, but in order to full utilise our democratic system and ensure everyone gets the most out of it, unbiased education about the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy, how to join a political party, how to lobby, petition or how to even go about contacting your local MP is absolutely crucial.

Do you agree? Or if not, what topics do you think we need to be educating our young people on? I'd love to know!