Tomorrow, this will start my Year 10 English lesson. It’s a teachable moment, taken from the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. These are the words of Danny Boyle, the Artistic Director, explaining what motivated and inspired what was, in my book, a brilliant insight into Britain’s impact on the modern world. There is much in these words that our students can benefit from. Think about using them in a classroom sometime this week.
At some point in their histories, most nations experience a revolution that changes everything about them. The United Kingdom had a revolution that changed the whole of human existence. In 1709 Abraham Darby smelted iron in a blast furnace, using coke. And so began the Industrial Revolution. Out of Abraham’s Shropshire furnace flowed molten metal. Out of his genius flowed the mills, looms, engines, weapons, railways, ships, cities, conflicts and prosperity that built the world we live in. It was a revolution that filled the world with noise, smoke, prosperity, pain and possibility.
In November 1990 another Briton sparked another revolution – equally far-reaching – a revolution we’re still living through. Tim Berners – Lee invented the World Wide Web, and built the world’s first website. He took no money for his invention. This, he said, is for everyone.
Just like the Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution is turning the world upside down, taking music, books,shopping, conversation, information to places that they never went before.
But flickering in the smoke and noise and excitement, you can sometimes glimpse a single golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of the better world, the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem.
And that it will be for everyone.
London 2012 Olympic Games
Another thing I liked – an Olympic opening ceremony featuring great contemporary artists like the Artic Monkeys.
One for the history books, or eBooks, as they may be. Lessons for us all can be found in that ceremony.