I frequently point out that we older people have so much to offer society and in the current negative attitude towards us this is largely wasted. This is easy to say, and theoretically it is easy to prove but when you come across an example of it actually happening the enormity of the situation is brought home.

We are becoming more and more aware of the movement towards increasing use of technology, including in the future, and there are frequent mutterings about our schools not meeting future needs. I recently heard one head of a technology company advocating children in primary schools being taught programming, for example. My first reaction is that there are unlikely to be any teachers equipped to do that. I suspect that there aren’t the resources available

I recently heard from a friend of mine who tells me that she is helping out at her grandson’s primary school with their gardening programme. She is thrilled because it also includes doing cooking with them which she loves. This should be a success story of a school using the resources available amongst the extended, retired part of their community. I should be giving them a ‘highly commended’ tick of approval. The problem with this story is that this lady is a retired ‘special education’ teacher who was absolutely brilliant in her work and much sought after before she retired. Can people at the school, particularly the Principal, look their struggling students with learning difficulties in the eye and feel that they are doing their best for them? The only reason they can is because they don’t think, and are not ‘trained’, to look at the resources available to them amongst their extended school communities.

It is not unusual to have grandparents involved in schools today. Some enterprising schools embarked upon this path many years ago, mainly with gardening, and have not even thought about cancelling it because it is so beneficial to all involved, including the children. For many children it is eye-opening to find that vegetables actually have to be grown in the ground before they get to the supermarket shelves!

My point is that it is time we extended the gardening experiment to include other areas based on the talents and skills other older people can bring to schools and that school Principals and boards go beyond gardening skills and look at other resources available to them. Schools will never have all the resources they need as they can never be afforded. The solution is to look at the unpaid help available to them.

As a retired maths/ public speaking and debating teacher I offered my services to my granddaughter’s school. I didn’t even get the courtesy of a reply!  I now don’t have a high regard for the Principal although her training also obviously seems to lack rigour.

As a country we are wasting the resources older people in the community can offer and schools are forever complaining that they lack the resources they need. Will schools, and those responsible for them, please put these two together?

This is only one small area, although a very vital one, in which the knowledge, skills and resources which older people have to offer are being wasted. Can we afford it, particularly when our children are our future?