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Opinion: Can being clever be cool?

PUBLISHED: 08:30 11 August 2019

Comedian and broadcaster Steve Allen wants to solve the wealth-based education gap.

Comedian and broadcaster Steve Allen wants to solve the wealth-based education gap.

Archant

People think being rich is about how much money you have. They are wrong.

That sounds like I am about to go all new-age and say true richness is about having time to know yourself. That's a load of rubbish too.

Being rich is about how much money you have compared to the average person. If you have a million pounds you sound rich but if everyone else in the UK also has a million pounds you'd have to cough up a lot to get that millionaire plumber to come out.

This means that for all the talk of a fairer society it is in the interest of some to keep things unfair and you can see this in the education system.

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A new report has found that poorer teenagers are 18 months behind their wealthier peers in their GCSEs. That education gap is largest and growing fastest in parts of northern England.

Part of the problem is that in the working class world we don't value being clever. On a TV show like Big Brother we vote the smartest ones off first.

It may be different for posh people but when I was at school you didn't want to be seen as keen. Trying hard at school was a sure way to lose friends and when you don't have much other than a little bit of social status you can't afford to lose it.

It's probably impossible to make being clever cool so we should focus on making being dim uncool.

We also know that young people aren't using Facebook these days because older people are. Basically, if grown-ups are doing it young people don't like it. So we can solve the wealth-based educational gap if old people pretend to be stupid even if they're very clever.

It looks like maybe Boris Johnson will make this country better after all.

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