Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sexual gestures

Well done to our noble PM, the nannies of mumsnet and the stalwart soul savers of Christian Union - all of whom you would really love to have at the top of a guest list for your summer barbecue. Their report on trying to limit the sexualisation of society is all arguably very noble but just well,  I get the feeling that it may just be a little late on the late side. Not being stupid people, I am sure they must have heard stories about  genies being somewhat on the relcutant side concerning being put back into their metaphoircal bottle. To my most sensitive nose it stinks more than a little of pointless gesture politics. It is exactly the sort of initiative our creepy PR exec PM Flashman would have whinged and mithered about had Nannies Blair and Brown tried something like this. The coalition of the chilling are appealing,  like them, to the frightened and fearful hiding out behind their netcurtain far out in the outer reaches of Daily Mailland again.

I wonder if placing modesty sleeves, as suggested,  on those specialist mags for one handed lads will be extended to the freedom loving injunction busting newspapers who back and help subsidise Cameron and his upstanding pals. The popular papers on the bottom shelf, read by those who possibly don't give a toss about such initiatives, and part of their popularity is down to having photos of various girls in their pants on the front of their scandal sheet.  Are they going to be changed? Thought not. Indeed, if you look at the Daily Mail on-line some of their ads are funded by well-rounded bottoms and breasts.

It seems to put the onus on business to self-regulate or be regulated. Fair enough - granted I have not read the report and only read about the initiative . From what I have gleaned, there is nothing (yet) about the role parent(s) who, I am old-fashioned and crusty enough to believe, have a minor role in bringing up their children? (Or have they all given up parenting for being friends).What should they be doing? Well, Cameron is one of the Sons of Thatcher maybe we should be inculcating Victorian values much beloved by his late heroine? Or perhaps going Back to Basics championed by the forgotten John Major who was espousing such virtue while squring the delightful upstanding Edwina Currie.

What about boys who seem, anecdotally at least, to receive their real sex ed from the Internet? Is this initiative indeed necessary or just rancid hot air to detract from the cuts on public services and tax dodging of their friends many of whom are running the businesses that are supposed to be regulated.

...and if they really want to protect our girls either educate them, encourage aspiration or stick them in a burka which, from having worked overseas, would doubtless get adapted and improved by our fashionista girls regardless of advertising, media  or any nanny imposed initiative.

Year 9 adapting the new Cameron / Christian Union inspired uniform

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Speaking in tongues

Me and my French teacher
Now being a bit of a traveller and a Francophile I ought to be in favour of languages. I kind of am so long as they are useful to me. Learning languages is difficult, it requires brain power and application. I struggled with French - the teachers were all distractingly gorgeous and pouting (as most young women are to 13 year old boy) and could not get my head around German because of the evil seemingly unapproachable stereotype Frau Cow (ho ho - we were funny) who in later years we discovered was a concentration camp survivor. Then there is also the cultural resistence - everyone speaks English.

When I was working overseas I tried to learn the basics of the local languages but, like our students, eventually saw little point as most people I met spoke some English and so became another lingusitically challenged Brit abroad. Those who did spend time on learning Chinese or Thai pronunciation and orthography all seemed a little affected in some way but their students did appreciate the occasional forays into .their cultures. Respect I suppose

For our students where they go on holiday there is only English spoken in the resorts. Moreover, everyone who isn't middle class dislikes  the French and, as all inhabitants of tabloidland well know the Germans are all goosestepping Nazi bastards and we  are so much better than them because  we won the World Cup in 1966 and a couple of World Wars they don't know the dates of and forget or never knew that other countries made a few sacrifices too.

So why would you want to learn their language? Why would anyone want to teach them? So big respect to our German and French teachers in their uphill battle of trying to give a love of language and alien culture to our charmers. A good 35% of our learners are on the SEN register and perhaps another 10%   should be with them in their attempts to achieve functional literacy with English. You do have to wonder at the logic of making them struggle through three years of speaking in tongues before dropping it as they all do in Year 9, although, like my subject, many have dropped it mentally after the Christmas card made in Year 7.  It seems a terrible waste of time and resources. My year 8 form group whinge on about the value of learning MFL more than they whinge about other subjects possibly with the exception of Superstition and Dance if it's the fat boys.

Nonetheless, the couple of small classes that do go through to GCSE tend to do quite well. Survivial of the fittest I guess. Perhaps if we started languages as a serious subject in Year 1 rather then Year 7 we might get somewhere. What I think I see in MFL in the UK is Darwin in action all around the country EB notwithstanding languages are being junked and have been for years. What is the point when so many people around the world have some English as a second language which is the default lingua franca of so much politics,business, media, IT, told interactive online games and popular culture. French language pop anyone? Perhaps time for a rethink for kids like ours at least - maybe a Key Stage 3 European Studies programme could be organised with some cross-curricula content and at least make Europe seem more than football and foreigners.

Lesbian social workers and money ladies

The stuff of nightmares...
In the amusing yet slightly disturbing dystopian parallel world of the Daily Mail teachers and social workers are up there with beardy leering hookhanded Muslamic kiddy fiddling honour killers in the pantheon of all things evil and perverse. They tend to bring on in the average Maily a terrible fit of the vapours requiring a good cup of Ovaltine and a lie down. Yes, the much maligned social worker is a fearsome ideological lesbian harpy out to either indulge the poor, dumb and feckless; or she (for it is always a she) is there to have her head publically removed and put on a media spike when one the spawn said poor, dumb and feckless is abused or killed on her watch. They stand not a chance and the sometimes boring, mundane and essential and sometimes interesting work they do is never explained. Well, why would it be? Background work is not newsworthy whereas death and depravity is...

The ones I come into contact with through work have a possibly more thankless task than we do in the school. At least the school provides boundaries, or attempts so to do, when what passes for normal home life often doesn't - certainly not from what we come into contact with on a daily basis.

Hereabouts, like many coastal towns - fostering kids is a big business. A nice little earner for many who get the pleasure of looking after the problem children / children with problems usually from the Big City. Respect as da kydz have it. At school I have witnessed fights between various damaged kids over whose care home / care giver is better. We have recently taken some kids that neighbouring counties refuse to have and rumour and conjecture have it that the the Money Ladies in their big air-conned BSF office are very happy at this. Great news - it's just a bugger for the rest of us who have to deal with it.  The Academy it seems means business...

That though is by-the-by as  the social workers do their best to assist the good folk of the once proud  town with basic parenting skills, social skills, caring skills, coping skills and then pass them on to us as a holding bay for a few years before we pass them on a longer-term basis to our good friends Plod whose numbers are about to be cut. Well done to the far-sighted oily Dave and his pet Little Nick.

...and, as we broke up last week it came to light that three Year 10 girls will be needing some of those parenting skills classes soon. All that sex ed in PSHE and putting condoms on smurf dildoes for nought...but on the bright side, in this time of austerity, they will keep some our colleagues in social work in employment as the cycle of stupidity continues.