There goes the class system

This is too damned sad:

Teachers are being urged to stop using the word clever and talk about successful children to curb school bullying. Union leaders said hundreds of children were being targeted because they were considered clever, and some bright students were refusing school prizes for fear of being picked on by classmates. . . .

Last year the conference heard calls from members to delete the word “failure” from the educational vocabulary and replace it with the concept of “deferred success”.

PC is spreading faster than bird flu.

  • Well, so what if we can’t say “clever” or “failure”, as long as we can say “bullshit”.

  • Cal

    Aren’t you American? You didn’t once mention in your summary or quotes that the schools in question are British schools. That’s a pretty bizarre omission.

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  • The words of Pink Floyd seem stunningly appropriate in this situation:

    “We don’t need no education.
    We don’t need no thought control.
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom…
    Teacher, leave those kids alone… “

  • A couple of years back a UK regional business newspaper I worked on wanted to advertise for a ‘hard working’ new salesman or woman. But they weren’t allowed to stipulate that they wanted someone hard working because that discriminated against those who weren’t….which was surely the whole point.

  • Luke

    I hope this PC idea meets with deferred success.

    Anyway must dash, got to wrap my kids in their cotton wool before we venture out into this oh-so competitive world.

  • Education is in meltdown in the UK Jeff. Idiocy is the goal everywhere – you can’t make every intelligent you see, but you sure as hell can make them dumb – hence the socialist drive to equalise our society by turning our kids into mush.

    At the macro level, and at the micro level, it’s all failing. Here in Macclesfield, UK, in a local paper this week we had a local headmaster commenting on the case of a girl who had to move from his school because she had been bullied for being bright and attractive – his response was “sorry, but we couldn’t do anything about it, and sometimes moving pupils is the ONLY answer”. Moving the bullied child, not the bullies, you note.

    You don’t know how lucky you are in the US… here we still have three socialist “states within a state” in operation: Our social security system, our NHS, and our schools. And they’re all disasters.

  • It IS damned sad.

    Education is on the way to implosion here in England. I’ll probably rant about it again soon. Having more insight (my mother is a teacher) is a blessing, because I’m more aware of the realities of the system, and a curse…because I’m more aware of the realities of the system.

    And forgive me for addressing another commenter possibly out of turn, but Cal:

    “Aren’t you American? You didn’t once mention in your summary or quotes that the schools in question are British schools. That’s a pretty bizarre omission. ”

    I may be wrong, but I think the point is education now pretty much sucks everywhere; that bullying is rife and out of control (and mostly denied/ignored), PC agenda has taken a foothold and now rules where logic and truth once reigned, finances and lesson plans and curriculum are messed around to such an extent (by people who have never taught in a sodding classroom in their life, let alone had to run a school) that the system is in chaos, smaller schools are closing by force and classes are becoming ludicrously large…

    …I could go on. And on. And on…

  • trm

    Point missed, Jeff.

    The point about not calling kids “clever” is not to be PC, but to avoid setting up the kids for a beating by their classthugs.

    The throwaway at the end about “failure” sure sounds PC, but that was last year, and the article doesn’t give us any clue as to how well received that suggestion was.

    Maybe PC *was* spreading like mad cow last year, but this year’s plague seems to be violence (according to the article).

  • trm,
    but changing the language is seen as the solution to the bigger problem. that’s what i mean by pc. perhaps rather than changing the word used for the clever, they should have stuck with the word used for the failures — namely, failures.
    I thought the ‘class system’ line was sufficient. didn’t mean to confuse. yes, i’m american.

  • deef

    Seems like there’s a bigger problem than just PC language here:

    “… hundreds of children were being targeted because they were considered clever, and some bright students were refusing school prizes for fear of being picked on by classmates”

    The world seems to have collectively decided that there’s something wrong with being smart. And the schools are just a reflection of parents and adults that really distrust anyone that might appear to be smarter than themselves.

    This bias against intelligence is everywhere. It’s the reason why stupid celebrities dominate all forms of news and why intelligent discussion gets tossed to the side. Why we vote for political leaders that advocate education while having the intellectual curiosity of a know-it-all teen.

    Being able to point to the educated and say, “Don’t trust them, they’re not like you,” is why fundamentalists and extremists around the world have come to dominate their countries.

    So, yes, changing the language is stupid; thinking you have to change the language to protect the smart from the stupid is just sad.

  • trm

    I think you have a valid point; it just seems to be mixed in with 1) an uncommon use of “PC” and 2) mixing the “clever” event with the “failure” non-event.

    1) Isn’t “Political Correctness” generally seen as changing language/labeling so as not to offend people’s tender sensibilities? Here, the “clever” kids are not offended by the label, but others use the label to trigger violence. Maybe I’ve lived a bland life, but in my experience the words “chairman,” “manhole cover,” or “strawman” never incited others to violence.

    There ought to be a term for this tweaking of language to avoid violence. It’s sad and dissapointing, but calling it PC is going to misdirect a lot of people.

    2) The “failure” example is clearly PC (to not offend the losers.) But the article seems to indicate the “failure” proposal was not accepted. Reading between the lines it sounds as is last year’s conference dismissed the “deferred success” idea as stupid, while this year’s conference recognized the “clever” problem.

    Anyway, I’m usually right in line with your logic. One this one, the logic just seemed misaligned. For what it’s worth.

  • Cal

    “I could go on. And on. And on… ”

    But why would you, considering that what you did say had not the slightest acquaintance–not even a nodding relationship–with reality?

    Our schools don’t suck. Not the US ones, anyway. Bullying isn’t “rife and out of control”. PC behavior is assuredly annoying, but hasn’t “booted out” a thing.

    Everyone wants to bitch about US schools, but the fact is that we educate the top 10% of our kids extraordinarily well, the mass in the middle about as well as we ever did, and poor kids very poorly. If anyone can point to a country with a heterogenous population that educates its poor very well, let me know. Otherwise, we struggle wtih an intractable population.

    Yes, most teachers are dolts, and education programs are terrible. Yes, PC dogma is irritating. Nonetheless,we educate the top 10% of our kids extraordinarily well, etc. So it can’t be that bad.

    And to prevent the inevitable accusations: I’m not a public or private school teacher, I’m a tutor and instructor, I find public school administrivia and public school teachers both annoying and stupid. It’s just that, unlike most people, I have a nodding familiarity with the stats and history of American education.

    Jeff, “class system” could be anything, in that context. Besides, it’s odd that you’d blast British schools without exonerating American schools of such nonsense, so it seemed as if you weren’t making a distinction but speaking ofall schools (as indeed most ofyour commenters are).

  • “Nonetheless,we educate the top 10% of our kids extraordinarily well, etc. So it can’t be that bad.”

    I’ll ask what I asked someone else who said something along that lines about schools in England:

    What about the remaining 90%. Do they not deserve to be educated extraordinarily well? I’m assuming considering the rest of that paragraph that we’re talking rich vs. poor here. And frankly I’m confused as to why you seem to think that educating “poor kids very poorly” is ok.

    I’m also confused regarding your inference that I should not talk about education in America. I’m assuming you are referring to the fact that I have not been educated in America itself. Well, yeah. I’ve not been. I’ve written my opinions of education in America based on the many Blogs I visit along with news reports I’ve seen, and what do you know? They tally with what I’ve put here, which kind of goes against your insistence that my comments have “not the slightest acquaintance–not even a nodding relationship–with reality”.

    I write about bullying being “rife” because it is. It’s “rife” everywhere, but nowhere more widely and more alarmingly apparent than in schools because the problem is not dealt with, neither here nor in America nor in China nor anywhere else you care to mention for many reasons, the top one being that the majority of schools turn a blind eye and pretend the problem does not exist.

    That is MY experience. And my friends’ experience. And the experience of many people I have met and spoken to in the Bloggersphere that either have children of school age themselves, have friends with children of school age or simply remember what it was like. Or all three.

    PC and overly asserted Health & Safety along with Human Rights booted out (or tried to) many things while I was in school alone:

    * Playing tag in the playground is supposed to be frowned upon in many Middle Schools (including Sladen Middle School, the school I attended. Thankfully the teacher’s risked being marked as ‘unco-operative’ by the powers that be and ignored this, but were marked down during their OFFSTED inspection on it) in case people hurt their knees when falling over.
    * You are not supposed to say the word “blackboard”. It now has to be chalk board in case it offends enthnic minorities.
    * There are no longer nativity plays at Christmas in many schools due to pressure from the DofE to not upset any of those with different religions.
    * Same goes for making Easter cards.
    * Books that state there are more than one kind of couple (as in, there are gay men and women who have relationships) are banned from many schools. Not promoting same couple relationships you understand, simply pointing out somewhere in the book that they exist.

    There are many more, including those that are happening now rather than six years ago. I won’t list all of them because I have a limited amount of time in my lunch-hour and what to make sure I say all I wish to say before posting the entire thing, links included, on my Blog to see what my readers make of it.

    I have a pretty good idea of what education in England is like, ‘Cal’, because I have not only experienced it personally, but am seeing every day in the news and through the eyes of a teacher (as in, someone who actually works WITHIN the system, rather than outside of it). And I have a pretty good idea of what education in America is like too, through the eyes of people actually LIVING through it.

    If that counts for nothing to you, then fine.

    But I will say again, education in both the UK & the US sucks.
    And it will continue to suck until people with logic gain power (if that ever happens we will know) and until teachers are given back the right to actually TEACH.

    Thank you. Have a nice day.

    PS: I deal with and am worried about what is happening in America and England NOW, not what has passed (although of course those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Or even if they remember it, in fact), and statistics can prove anything you want them to prove: that is why I don’t use them.

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