Valuable lessons to be found in fishing

Fly of the month is cow dung.
Fly of the month is cow dung.
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I’m really sorry about the weather whilst I was away on holiday; honest. The problem with relaxation is that it allows me time to think and I’m afraid that thinking often makes me fume. So, be warned, gentle reader what follows might just be approaching the realms of ranting.

For some time, it has been increasingly clear to me that the future of our young people is in serious jeopardy. Decisions regarding their education are derived from politicians with no knowledge of the process. Their own educational encounters are a world apart from reality and they belittle the views of those whose experience and training gives them the right to a view.

Luckily, help is at hand. My old pal Charles Jardine has taken the fish by the fin and introduced a programme called Fishing for Schools and young people, and their teachers, have really taken to it.

Fishing underlines the whole raison d’être of a sensible curriculum.

The science delivered in school is only justified in enabling pupils to appreciate that kinetic energy is stored in a correctly loaded fly rod. Once pupils embark upon the road to enlightenment, the rest comes so easily.

We are in Yorkshire. To know where in the county it is best to go fishing, a thorough knowledge of geography and a smattering of geology are vital.

In such a massive county, everyone needs to know how to differentiate between rivers born on boulder clay or limestone. This dictates decisions about the contents of the fly box. This understanding in turn justifies the inclusion of biology in the curriculum. How else could the angler know upon which waters to cast a mayfly imitation, let alone which species is on the wing?

Then, of course, digital dexterity brought about through art and playing the violin facilitates the tying of the artificial mayfly. History informs us of the environmental ravages of the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, any fish caught from the Don around Sheffield becomes a blessing.

Even the most obscure aspect of schools’ activities is finally justified; that entire obsession with running about on rugby pitches is to ensure the physical fitness to walk the river bank all day without flagging. Also, I suspect, it is preparation for carrying back the catch without suffering fatigue. Talking of the catch, surely it now becomes important, to attend closely to cookery lessons. It would be a disaster to miss out on oak smoked trout or baked grayling with dill sauce.

A visit to Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale provides the opportunity to cast a line in the shadow of that adjacent hauntingly beautiful Priory. We need to recall our history to make the best of the experience, geography to find the way and rudimentary mathematics to calculate the time for the journey.

This is what Fishing for Schools is all about. May I also mention the fact that it supports social interaction, cooperation, language development and self esteem?

More importantly than all of this, the programme negates the complete nonsense of league tables and target–driven drivel. Homework actually becomes relevant.

Our young people can, once more, enjoy their education and avoid the collection of clap – trap that is currently stuffed down their throats.

This month’s fly sums up the situation succinctly. Cow dung.

I did warn you.