This weekend I had a full diary of exciting social events, including a 30th birthday football party, watching and cheering on England’s rugby team, and a special meal. However, I nearly didn’t go in case I injured myself and ruined my Antarctic expedition. Then I had a thought …

We complain about the sofa-bound, video game wielding, Co-op
loitering youth of today, but have we not fashioned and shaped them ourselves? The news is full of stories about how playgrounds are dangerous, going to London is risky, field trips leave you open to being sued, etc. Is it any wonder that young people end up believing that staying inside or standing around in groups doing nothing is the way forward?

Luckily sense does prevail in most cases. My school, like many others, does run field trips, it has 100s of students doing Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, it has two assault courses and we do visit London. And yes, doing all of that requires dedicated staff willing to spend their evenings and weekends filling in small forests’ worth of forms.

Teachers and parents aim to inspire youngsters. Experience is an important part of that – incredible places, strange people, difficult situations and failure. Test your attitude at www.northpole2009.co.uk ; it’s the public face of three 13 and 14 year olds (Katie, Ed and Alex) who are going to attempt to sledge-haul the last degree to the North Pole. Do you find yourself drawing breath and then tutting, or smiling and nodding?

Which leads to a final question, should it be students or us teachers heading to Antarctica? To send students would be the best way of inspiring them and their friends, but by sending a teacher you can potentially inspire all the students they come into contact with (over 10,000 in a career!).

So in the light of the importance of experience, I’m glad I spent the weekend having vast amounts of fun with friends. I’ve seen friends I had lost contact with (hello Becky), celebrated a 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Ben!) and reveled in England’s 5-2 win. Caution would have made me miss out on all of that.