Back To School: Ten Things We Can Learn From Our Younger Selves

It’s back to school for tiny tots all over the country- and it strikes us we’ve been just the tiniest bit biased in our reporting so far. We’ve got advice for entrepreneurs, advice from Romans, advice for candidates, advice from sharks, advice for job hunters of all shapes and sizes- but nothing for or from the under fives. Who, as everyone knows, are the wisest of the wise. Yep. Five-year-olds know what’s up. Five-year-olds got this down. Five-year-olds know what’s right, even when they can’t tell which shoe goes on which foot, and are generally committed, dedicated and enthusiastic in every direction. That’s why, today, we’ve collected everything you need to know for your first day of school– and how remembering all this will make your grown-up life one hundred times better.

1. The Importance of Shiny Shoes

Shoes are important. Good shoes make a scruffy outfit better. Good shoes make you look like you’re taking this whole school (office) thing seriously. Shiny shoes make you look like you care. Shiny shoes make it look like you took the time to polish those shiny shiny shoes. Shiny shoes make you look efficient, organised and very smart. Shiny shoes are a metaphor for “dress properly to be taken seriously”. Shiny shoes are a metaphor for “dress appropriately”. Polish your shoes. Thank us later.

(That said, we weren’t allowed shiny patent leather shoes in case the boys saw our pants reflected in them. Bear that in mind, ladies. Bear that in mind.)

2. The Importance of Sharp Pencils

Much like shiny shoes, having sharp pencils is a sign of preparation, and will make it much easier to go into class/a meeting/ an interview feeling like you’re going to ace it. Sharpen your pencils- and your rapier wit- the night before. Look how sharp they are! Inhale their woody scent of preparation! You feel better now. We know it. Also, sharp pencils are much more pleasing to doodle with.


3. Packed Lunch

The average office worker spends nearly £8 a day on lunch. The average school child, on the other hand, spends £1.93. Yeah, yeah, we know that the kid is smaller, and probably eats less. But it’s sobering. From the insanely pretentious (and cool), to the adorable (and weird), to the just delicious, lunch boxes are in now. Lunch boxes are cool.

4. Know Where Your Peg Is

Rather like knowing where your towel is, knowing where your peg is is shorthand for having your stuff together. You know where your peg is, you’re never going to be at a loss, whether it’s playtime, PE, or time to get your big shirt for painting. Similarly, if you know what’s what in the office, even the difficult things are going to be significantly easier.

5. Try Not To Call The Teacher Mum

At school, everybody has their place- (this is almost certainly the same in the office)- and that place is not being your mum. Calling your CEO Mum, while embarrassing, probably wouldn’t be too much of a disaster- but treating her like your mum just might be. Don’t expect things to be done for you. Google first, ask questions later. And for god’s sake, don’t ask your COO to do your shoelaces. Get Velcro, if you can’t do it yourself.

6. In The School Dinner Hall, Nobody Can Hear You Scream

The dinner hall is a brutal, brutal world. Dinner ladies will make you eat everything, starting with the sandwiches, and don’t think she can’t see you trying not to eat those crusts and trying to slide your lumpy yoghurt surreptitiously into the bin. Dinner ladies also won’t help you open your crisps or cut your sandwich in two. No- you’re going to have to do three things. The first thing is Learn The Rules. The second thing is Learn How To Break Them Without The Dinner Lady Noticing. The last thing is Learn To Do It Yourself. (In this scenario, the Dinner Lady is the Man, and you’re going to stick it to her, one surreptitious crust-up-the-jumper at a time. You’re going to change the world.)

7. Trust No-one; Play With Everyone; Don’t Whinge At Mrs. Batson

Small children, like sharks, work out very quickly that nobody is to be trusted. Your best friend on Monday is almost certainly going to be Jason’s best friend on Tuesday and Penelope’s best friend on Wednesday. Playing with Hepzibah on Thursday doesn’t mean she’ll let you play Mums and Dads with her on Friday. So be flexible. Play with everyone. Accept disappointment. In the immortal words of Mrs. Batson, our tyrannical dinner lady, “go and find someone else to play with, and stop whinging at me”. Whinging never won anybody anything, let alone a deal, or a job. Whinging only ever won the perpetual, total and irascible fury of Mrs. Batson.

8. Don’t Bring That Action Man In Here

If you bring that Action Man in here- even for Show And Tell, even if it’s a Super Scuba Diver 2000 edition- Hepzibah’s going to want to play with it too, and Jason’s going to pull its arm off by accident-on-purpose. You’re also not going to concentrate properly on Numeracy Hour, because you’re going to be thinking about Super Scuba Diver 2000, sitting in your drawer. Do you see what we’re driving at here? Basically, we’re driving at this: leave the precious things of the shop at home, where you can return to them once the working day is done. Keep the precious things for yourself. Leave your beloved ideas and your beloved theories at home. While at work, do as the workers do. Focus on the meeting. Focus on Numeracy Hour.

9. Drive, Passion, Focus

Five-year-olds have these in abundance. Granted, their passion may be for the Super Scuba Diver 2000, or dressing only as Cinderella, but dammit they care about these passions. Our very own Will Bentinck wore a Superman suit everywhere, believing himself to be the true Superman, until some unhealthy age: that, right there, is commitment to an ideal. A Nietzschean ideal perhaps- but you can’t fault the drive, the focus or the passion.

10. Why?

Why is that happening? What is the name of the place between the bits that stick out on a comb? What is the place called underneath the kettle? Why do you go to work every day? Why can’t you go this way, not that way? Who says? When did that happen? What happened tomorrow? Why are you reading this? What is this? Who are you? How does the blog work? How does the office work? How does anything happen? What happens if I do this? What happens if you keep asking questions, every day, forever? Why do people stop asking questions? Why do people take everything for granted? What would happen if we all started asking questions, and what would happen if we all started answering them?

Ask more questions, is what we’re getting at. Ask everything. Ask everything; challenge everything; and the name of the bits between the bits that stick out on a comb is, at least in archeological terms, umpernater. 

Don’t say we never teach you anything.



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