Choices, Choices, Choices

By Adrian Harvey

In conversation with the soon to be Year 8 Harvey twin boys, I was reminded of something my now deceased father told me reasonably frequently when I was an (academically unremarkable) schoolboy.  “Choices, choices, choices.”

My excuse of dyslexia cut little mustard with the scholarship winning, ex- British Army officer from an East End slum.

My father understood well enough that my dyslexia was a hindrance to a traditional education, particularly when it was less well understood or accepted in the education system at that time.

That said he was completely unforgiving of anything other than trying my best and never giving up.  Low effort and a defeatist attitude were simply not allowed in chez Harvey in the 1970s.  This was justified with the simple word “choices.”

The purpose of education wasn’t, I was told, to be able to boast of exam grades, it was to equip one with the skills and character to succeed in life.  The measure of success not being counted in Ferraris, bling or “followers” as it all too often is today.  The measure of success I was told was “choice” and that choice was the key to freedom.  Living a life of choices and freedom being hugely preferable to the alternative where your only choices were between bad outcomes.

I have to confess to being somewhat baffled as an 8-year-old being told by an adult that unlimited choice wasn’t the prerogative of every adult.  I mean surely that’s the point of growing up so you don’t have to do as you’re told and you are free to do what you like?

Trouble is at some point on life’s journey you realise the terrible irony that you probably had most freedom and greatest choice when you were a child!

However, the pre-school chat with the twins reminded me of Dad’s mantra of choice and I reflect that he was spot on. The greatest freedom in life comes from having as many choices in your life as possible.  So, despite my mediocre academic record, my die-in-a-ditch work ethic inherited from my father has, I am pleased to say, given me far more positive choices than the vast majority of contemporaries.

So, facing Year 8 with a little trepidation the twins know that choice gives you freedom and always doing your best and not giving up, whilst apparently old-fashioned and unpopular character traits will serve you well and provide you with the positive life choices that provide freedom.  The alternative lazy entitlement culture that pervades society now is unlikely at best to provide pleasant choices because those choices only really come from effort and hard work.