Spoiler alert for all Christmas fans who start looking forward to Sky’s Christmas Station back in September. Amid the Christmas lights, the atmospheric music and the questionable Christmas sweaters, I'm about to sound a note of criticism.
A Christmas drinks party here, a departmental lunch there, a fairly generous gift to celebrate the festive period. And what's more, an entire indoor winter village, complete with ice rink, in the Atlas building. There are times when I hardly dare tell my friends and family members just how good we have it here at TU. And it's not just the festive season. At other times of the year we have day trips, lunches and events. All of it paid for by the boss.
Whereas, if truth be told, the very people who deserve my heartfelt thanks are these friends and relatives. Because they have helped make all this possible. All their tax dollars could do nothing to stop Dutch school children achieving significantly lower standards in math, the natural sciences and, in particular, reading skills. But, hey ho, there'll be nothing substandard about our Christmas party here. Which is why I sometimes wonder whether that pot of money at the Ministry of Education is being fairly distributed between primary, secondary and higher education? Perhaps spend a little more money on primary education, and a little less on cardboard winter villages?
Of course, our WinTU/er Village accounts for just a fraction of TU's total budget. But it is something of a spectacle. And for me it is symbolic of the ease with which money is spent on things other than education. Does that make me a cantankerous green Grinch? It probably does. And a hypocrite to boot. Because although I sincerely dislike the Christmas Station, I do like going to all the parties with my colleagues, despite my note of criticism. I might even strap on my skates in Atlas. Under protest. Happy holidays, everyone!