Seeing red

STILL catching up on news stories over the Christmas period, and this one made me fume.

Now, I know I’ve been accused in the past of pandering to the whole Daily Mail/it’s political correctness gone mad” thing, but there’s a very good reason why this kind of half-witted nonsense should be opposed.

In the 1980s, the right-wing press had a field day with the antics of left-wing councils allegedly banning the words blackboards, black coffee and  man” in manhole covers, etc. In fact, a lot of it was made up, but the damage was done and Labour paid a heavy electoral price, particularly when our cadidates were drawn from the alleged “loony left” section of the party.

Yet today, it’s almost as if Labour (and other) councils are looking at their archived press cuttings from the ’80s and saying: “Hmm, that’s a good idea – why didn’t we think of that before?”

Take this latest nonsense about red ink: where is the empirical evidence that using a red pen on a pupil’s work will have any detrimental effect whatever on his development? Where is the research? Where are the numbers? Where are the “victims” of red ink, and do they blame their own failures in life on the colour of the pen their teachers used?

Well, if they do, they’re morons. And so are the half-wits who came up with this latest idea. 

Here’s a suggestion about why some kids do better than others at school – they’re cleverer! Yes, maybe it’s nothing to do with red ink, or because their school was called a “school” and not a “place of learning”… Maybe kids who are brighter, or whose parents spend time reading to them and teaching them the value of learning and books and respect for their teachers and for authority will do better than their fellow pupils (am I allowed to say “fellow”? Is that sexist? Do I care?).

All of this obsession with “non-threatening, non-offensive” language is simply a distraction. It gives succour to the right wing and their allies in the media. But worse than that, it doesn’t matter. Teachers and (I hate this word – ) educationalists should be concentrating on teaching kids to read and write, to learn stuff instead of worrying about whether the wee souls are going to burst into tears because there’s a red instead of a green cross on their jotter.

Rant over.

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54 Comments

Filed under Banned, Labour, Media

54 responses to “Seeing red

  1. Hmm, will Ministers be asked to use a green pencil when going through speeches prepared by their officials?

    On a related subject when I was at school I always envied other pupils (usually girls) who had a full set of Derwent coloured pencils in a fancy tin box. Diagrams in their homework looked so much better than my scuffy efforts.

    Actually my efforts would have looked just as scruffy with more colours but ‘pencil envy’ helped justify my shortcomings. Is such inequality tolerated in today’s schools?

  2. Simon

    That story is actually dated Jan 2003.

    Are you that far behind with catching up ?

    Anyway, red pen is used because it stands out against the black or blue ink used by pupils. Thus making it easier for them to read, and therefore learn from their mistakes. Nothing negative in that. This truely is loony, (and left :-).

  3. “latest idea” = “Thursday, 23 January, 2003”?

    Did this really have you so angry you didn’t notice the datestamp/old Beeb layout?

  4. Oh, and another thing (wahey!)

    “Here’s a suggestion about why some kids do better than others at school – they’re cleverer!”

    Tell me an MP of the party that on the back of my membership card still proclaims itself to be ‘socialist’ didn’t just say that?!

    There is a massive correlation between income and social class, and child ability – especially at a very young age…

  5. Johnny Norfolk

    Well it comes from Labour( not all but most). So why do you not do something about it. Surely some one from big brother labour would love to have the job of phoning up a council and putting them right. like you Tom.
    ‘ Minister toReduce Red Tape and PC ‘

    Lets have some action.

  6. Sorry about linking to the wrong story (dated 2003). I’ve now replaced the link with one to a more recent story.

  7. Matt

    I used to hate it when certain teachers of mine put bit red ticks through my work. If you’re going to teach children to take pride in producing work that is well-presented, is written with good hand-writing, has good drawings etc. then why not take on board that scribbling all over it does nothing to aid this. Banning red pens full stop is obviously a bit crazy, but if there are ways of marking that encourage children to produce higher standards of work then why shouldn’t that information be spread around the teaching profession?

  8. John

    For god’s sake Tom, don’t start being sensible or you’ll never get another promotion!

    I’d say something like “Labour MP in being sensible SHOCKER”, but in fairness to you, you usually are (apart from the topic of terrorism that is 😉 )

    I’m going to say something shocking now. Labour aren’t a bad party. They really aren’t. However, they do suffer badly at the hands of loonies who make themselves and Labour look like a bunch of idiots.

    To make things worse, that seems to be the criteria for a cabinet post these days. Explains why you no longer have one Tom – you’re not a moron. Try hitting yourself in the head a few times so that your IQ drops into the double digits. You’ll have a call from Broon within the hour…..

  9. richard

    Last time I looked at the pre-budget report there was a lot of red ink and it certainly caused me great concern.

  10. Jim Baxter

    @There is a massive correlation between income and social class, and child ability – especially at a very young age…

    So? A correlation is a measure of association and nothing more. It says nothing about what causes what.

  11. wrinkled weasel

    School was never a place of safety for me. I had some mild learning difficulties, I was small for my age and I was bullied by kids and teachers. In those days nobody had fancy words for what I had to cope with, but in later life, both my kids were diagnosed as being dyslexic, so it might have been something like that. I had a great deal of difficulty with memorising things and still do today.

    I was frightened of school from day one. The memories are of terrible meals, single sheets of shiny toilet paper, sour milk and always being sidelined. I was given a good kicking on several occasions and all in all I reckon I am school phobic to this day.

    Another terror for me was homework. I was the kid who did my homework on Sunday night or Monday morning. I couldn’t read the books properly and so I never knew what I was supposed to be doing. I did not have a family who were willing to help me.

    My school books were covered in red ink and “See me”s.

    All in all, it was just another brick in the wall.

  12. Andrew F

    Political-correctness is a false concept invented by the right so that they can ridicule us. Yes, some people are on the left are idiots and most of us ignore tripe like this. But when you adopt the language of “common sense” – and quote nonsense-stories like this – you’re just helping out the racists, the bigots, and the economic elitists.

    They want to make tolerance and compassion look idiotic. You’re giving them a helping hand.

    And yeah, I’m with Alasdair. Get a grip and remember who you’re supposed to be representing. Achievement in school is not based on intelligence; it’s based on exam-performance. Exam-performance is inextricably linked with social-status.

  13. Chris' Wills

    I can’t remember where I noticed it, but aren’t some councils in Scotland banning winners and losers at sports days?

    Seems that admitting the fact that some are better than others at different activities is frowned upon and that everyone has to be equal.

    Equal opportunities are good, won’t lead to equal outcomes.
    Just like learning that skill/intelligence doesn’t always equal success in every endevour.

    What next, give everyone who wants one a degree?

  14. Andrew (and Alistair) – Of course performance at school is affected by your social background, but let’s not pretend that all kids have equal ability. They don’t: some are cleverer than others, even after taking life chances into account.

    And can we please stop this ridiculous mantra that exams are a bad thing? So far no-one’s come up with a better system of assessing pupils’ performance. Yes, some fail. But I represent families in some very poor areas of Glasgow whose children have performed amazingly at exams. I’m not going to tell them that exams don’t mean anything.

  15. Jim Baxter

    Hear hear to that Tom.

    @Exam-performance is inextricably linked with social-status.

    is another meaningless statement.

  16. Jim Baxter

    Oh, and I always thought MPs are elected to represent all their constituents, according to the MPs’ consciences.

    Nor can I see any reference to the Labour party in this:

    I ………. swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to
    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me
    God.

  17. Zorro

    Holy Cow Tom, be careful, I don’t think your political masters will appreciate this kind of political incorrectness on your part!

    “…but let’s not pretend that all kids have equal ability. They don’t: some are cleverer than others…”

    That’s obviously true but it’s rather against the policies and ideas of your party isn’t it? That we’re all equal, the same?

    Andrew F said:
    “Achievement in school is not based on intelligence;”

    Andrew, this statement and your implication that you are a labour supporter really clarifies the point that you are a bit of a thicky. Get over it mate, most people are brighter than you. Nothing to do with your “social-status”.

    However I will give you the fact that /these days/ “Achievement in school is not based on intelligence” – thanks to Labour dumbing down the entire education system achievement is available to all. At last equality!

    Z.

  18. Jules Wright

    But what, as an MP, are you going to do about it Tom? After all, this situation – and others like it too numerous to mention – are the fault of you, your party, your councillors, your government and your ideology …

  19. Robert

    But Labour did have that period in which a black car should not be called black, I mean why have IC1 and IC2. We had a three day training course in work about how skin colour was only skin deep, no joking a three day course to tell us the colour of your skin was only skin deep.

  20. Indy

    You come over as a bit smug in this one. No, it’s not always the case that children who do well in school are simply more clever. It is the case that children who do well in school have parents who spend time reading to them and teaching them the value of learning and books and respect for their teachers and for authority. But what happens to the children who don’t have that? What happens to the children whose parents couldn’t care less, who may be alcoholics or have other problems, the kind of parents who never read to their kids, who leave them to get up and get dressed and go to school themselves, who take no interest in their development, never mind their homework? That’s not always related to social status, bad parents exist everywhere. Children who receive no encouragement or support at home need to get that encouragement and support at school or they will not get it anywhere. Stigmatise a child as a failure at an early age and, where they have no other sources of support, all too often it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  21. Andrew F

    Andrew (and Alistair) – Of course performance at school is affected by your social background, but let’s not pretend that all kids have equal ability.

    Indeed not, Tom! …But you really ought to distinguish between ability and intelligence. They are rather different things. By all accounts, I would be considered a particularly able student, but I don’t think for a moment that it accurately reflects my raw intelligence.

    My abilities are the result of a great list of things: the teaching I’ve received, the books I’ve read, the culture I’ve been exposed to, early-life experiences, the conversations I’ve had, the skills I’ve honed from repetition, and – yes – intelligence.

    The specific point about schools is this: schools in economically deprived areas do not attract teachers of comparable quality to those in economically affluent ares. Thus, regardless of intelligence, a student in a deprived area is less likely to have the ability to pass an exam than one in an affluent area. I only have to look to GCSE results in my town to know this.

    If some crack-pot believes red-markers are likely to prevent a few kids from turning their intelligence into ability, would it really hurt to use a blue pen?

    Andrew, this statement and your implication that you are a labour supporter really clarifies the point that you are a bit of a thicky. Get over it mate, most people are brighter than you. Nothing to do with your “social-status”.

    That was a little odd. I’m predicted to get three As at A level, thanks. (This is the part where you say, “If an idiot like you can get three As, then… exams… worthless… etc.” And then I’ll laugh at you for being so predictable.)

  22. Andrew F

    And ha, the last paragraph just reminded me of this: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2008/08/guest-blog-schools-should-be-about-more.html

    (Never submit a bleeding-heart leftist article to a Tory blog and expect the comment section to be pretty.)

  23. Jim Baxter

    @Thus, regardless of intelligence, a student in a deprived area is less likely to have the ability to pass an exam than one in an affluent area. I only have to look to GCSE results in my town to know this.

    Regardless of intelligence eh? And how do you know this?

  24. No wonder your services were no longer required in government, Tom. You are not getting with the agenda…

    Children are now meant to be raised without healthy and natural personal experiences of discipline, competition, disappointment, failure or shame. They are discouraged from partaking of any activity considered remotely hazardous and their spiritual needs are ignored.

    What, one wonders, are they being “saved” for?

    Naturally, they will grow up to be ineffective people – full of fears and confusion –unable to cope with the real world, and thus be very malleable in the hands of anyone and everyone they have been taught has ‘authority’ over them.

    The only hope for children today is that they come from good, strong, sensible families who instil a sense of reality, the work ethic, and right from wrong (rather than politically correct gobbledygook that will only damage them).

    Tragically for many children, PC has delivered them a double whammy, as the word ‘family’ in newspeak means anything you want it to, but rarely these days, it seems, a big dynamic unit of relations who are there for each other. The Government would rather Social Services, Health Services and the Criminal Justice System took over and so promotes every ‘lifestyle choice’ but marriage.

    The green ink ‘humanist’ liberals have taken over the world because normal people assumed that their pompous disregard of anything traditional, tried and tested meant they had greater wisdom and vision and were keen to ‘get the job done,’ and so, not wishing to seem like old fuddy-duddies and get accused of holding up progress, we let them. Now the job has been done and so have we.

    Claiming to be a moderniser seems to be a very effective way of self-aggrandisement.

    Rant over.

  25. Andrew F

    Sorry, the phrasing was clumsy. I meant to say that if you just assume that, on average, children in different schools will have roughly the same intelligence, you then have to explain the huge discprancies in exam-performance.

    In other words: unless you believe that the kids in my state comprehensive all happen to be intrinsically more intelligent than the ones in the comp down the road, you have to look to something other than intelligence to explain why we pass exams and they don’t. It’s the elephant in the room that the right refuses to talk about. Of course, we all know what they think the explanation is: poor kids have stupid genes; that’s how their parents became poor. They just won’t say it, because they’re scared.

  26. Jim Baxter

    Andrew F,

    OK. But why should we assume equal variance in intelligence across schools? Evidence please.

    Tom, could you put that last in red please?

  27. bupendra bhakta

    worrying about whether the wee souls are going to burst into tears
    —————————————————————–

    I don’t know about the ‘wee souls’ bursting into tears but there’s a few bursting into tears on this blog at the thought that ‘card-carrying member of the Labour Party’ no doubt ‘from a traditional working class background’ has actually cottoned on that some kids are just – like it or lump it – thick and doomed to deferly succeed in their exams.

  28. Andrew F

    Jim,

    Why wouldn’t there be equal variance in intelligence across schools? In an unselective system, why would you expect that some schools would have an intake capabale of achieving 20% 5 A*-C and in others 90%? Statistically speaking, these things just shouldn’t happen if exam-results are just about intelligence.

    And even it wasn’t so statistically improbable, you can’t explain away the irrefutable (and huge!) correlation between good results and being situated in an affluent area.

    If you don’t believe me, look at the data at the bottom of this article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/gulf-widens-in-school-exam-results-1079731.html

    Go on, look at it. Switch on your lazy, Daily Mail-infested brains and acually look at some data. Then come back here and tell me kids fail exams because they’re too thick.

    Morons.

  29. Jay

    I agree with you, Tom – pity more of your colleagues don’t share your robust view.

    As Stewart says, we’re raising generations of children who are sheltered – by state agencies – from competition, risk and criticism whilst nurturing unrealistic expectations even in the face of lack of ability. In short, these children will be ill-prepared for the harsh realities of adulthood.
    …And doesn’t it occur to these people that green ink will begin to have the same ‘negative’ associations as red ink!

    This story is just one of many which reflect the madness of living in today’s UK (have you, btw, seen the results of the survey in which the majority of mothers say that they refuse to read certain fairy stories because they’re not pc (eg Snow White – because it’s not kind to dwarves?).

    This nonsense didn’t happen overnight and not only have Labour done nothing to rein it in, they’ve encouraged it.

  30. Jim Baxter

    Andrew F,

    Oh dear. You’d be lucky to get a Bishop Desmond from me mate for analysis of that quality, forget about an ‘A’. Once again, a correlation (r) tells you nothing about cause and effect. It is possible, for example, that kids from affluent families are brighter than kids from less affluent familes, on average. Now, that’s possible isn’t it? The correlations don’t tell you one way or the other. So stop talking out of your r’s.

  31. Pogo

    “Andrew F”: Achievement in school is not based on intelligence; it’s based on exam-performance. Exam-performance is inextricably linked with social-status.

    Well, I never knew that. I grew up on a council estate so I’d better hand my PhD back.

  32. Andrew F

    Jim:
    Why, yes, I suppose that is a possibility (which is why I said at 7.26: “Of course, we all know what they think the explanation is: poor kids have stupid genes; that’s how their parents became poor.”). And I never said there wasn’t an explanation; it’s just that the right never seems interested in providing one.

    Why? Because the one you just provided is a disgrace to anyone interested in education. It boils down to: “Poor children are stupider than rich children.” If you believe that, you are lost.

    Pogo:
    That’s a really convincing argument you’ve got there. My mum grew up in a caravan and now she has an MA. Neither of our little stories change the fact that someone living in the Scilly Isles, Bucks or Kensington is three times more likely to pass their GCSEs than someone living in Hull.

  33. Nicholas

    “Political-correctness is a false concept invented by the right so that they can ridicule us.”

    That’s a good one but I don’t think so. “Political Correctness” has entered not just our language but our psyche. Not as a false concept but as a very tangible phenomenon. It is frequently mentioned in conversations as a qualification to what people are afraid to say, more so with the promotion of repressive concepts of thought and speech crime by fascist tendency New Labour (well done, comrades). Is it a myth? Doubt it. Is it ridiculed by the right. Undoubtedly. And by most people of common sense and pragmatism. I have no connection with this campaign but as an alternative viewpoint to Andrew F’s you may care to ponder:-

    http://www.capc.co.uk/

  34. Hibbo

    Well gor blimey! What a sensible, common-sense kind of guy you are Tom! Wow! I’m so glad you’re not one of those loony-lefty-liberal types, if only I could believe you.

    This is the work of you, your ilk, and your party. It’s too late to try and put up a somewhat pathetic front against it now that you see people are finally sick of this nonsense.

  35. Hibbo

    Andrew F,

    It has been explained to you on here already; there are kids with parents (or parent) who don’t give a stuff about their upbringing, and these parents are generally less-affluent (not because of the evil capitalist world, but because they are lazy).

  36. Richard

    @ Pogo

    Yes, the rightful owner probably wants it back.

  37. bupendra bhakta

    Political correctness a false concept invented by the right !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    —————————————————————-

    another one with fairies at the bottom of the garden.

    So in What’s The Story, Balamory? Edie Mcredie, as an annual treat, wants to take all the kids out for the day on her bus.

    Where might she take them?

    Perhaps for a wee paiddle in the burn?

    Or a secluded beach where they can skip stones into the waves.

    Or even a braw loch where they can be given some kiddie-sized fishing rods and some worms?

    Nah. Edie takes the kids to the local mosque for their treat.

    NB Balamory is

    a) on the ever-so-politically-correct BBC and

    b) situated on a island off the west coast of Scotland and

    c) with a village nursery that looks like a branch of the United Nations.

  38. Jim Baxter

    Andrew F,

    I didn’t provide any explanation at all. I pointed out a possibility which is left untested the by measures of correlation in which you seem to have such faith. Best brush up on your reading skills too if you want those As.

  39. Barney Waits

    Tom,

    Odd. I agree with you. However, to blame PC on the right is to rewrite history. It’s the left who always wish to abuse English, and New Labour who have brought Orwell’s Newspeak into being.

    Remember this one? No wonder the education system is FUBAR.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/jul/19/schools.uk4

    Failure shouldn’t be an option in class, say teachers

    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 July 2005 15.09 BST

    The word “fail” should be deleted from the school vocabulary and replaced with the term “deferred success”, according to a group of teachers.

  40. Barney Waits

    bupendra bhakta January 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    //
    I don’t know about the ‘wee souls’ bursting into tears but there’s a few bursting into tears on this blog at the thought that ‘card-carrying member of the Labour Party’ no doubt ‘from a traditional working class background’ has actually cottoned on that some kids are just – like it or lump it – thick and doomed to deferly succeed in their exams.
    //

    Quite so – and once upon a not that long ago time, we had a fit for purpose three tier further education system; the “thick” went to CFE’s where they learnt trades, others who might want to go into a profession that did not need rigorous academic work – e.g. Accountancy, Architecture – went to Polytechnics, and those who were able to pursue rigorous academic courses went to University.

    No stigma in this, just a sensible way of getting the best from all school-leavers.

    The government’s insistence on everyone being in education until 21 or 22 is simply to keep the unemployment figures down. The output from schools is now so bad that even those who go to Imperial College in London, where the hard sciences are taught hard, so to speak, are now offered a starter year of “remedial” education.

    I wouldn’t – as noted – send any child of mine into this schooling system as it stands … or rather, collapses about us.

  41. Pogo

    @Richard

    “@ Pogo

    Yes, the rightful owner probably wants it back.”

    Damn! Rumbled! 🙂

  42. richard

    Assuming;
    a) Intelligence is at least partially genetic
    and
    b) Assuming that higher intelligence is associated with higher average earnings

    Surely that means that poor people are more likely to be stupid?

  43. Simon

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc

  44. Simon

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc as my latin teacher used to say.

  45. richard

    my wife was from a very poor background but ended up with a BA hons degree. why? because she passed her 11 plus, went to Grammar school. she then got a grant for university, otherwise she couldn’t have afforded it.
    the reason for poor pupils doing badly in Britain is because of the system; there is no streaming of bright pupils by academic selection, so anyone with a modicum of intelligence is stuck in a class along with dullards. yes, folks, some people are unintelligent. these people have to keep up as best they can, then fall behind. this is the basic problem.
    there are other factors, of course, such as some of us being intelligent but lazy, and some average pupils who get their nose to the grindstone. but the comprehensive system, plus lack of discipline, plus PC nonsense (which starts in primary school eg sports days being cancelled to spare the feelings of the wets and fatties, never mind the sense of pride and achievement as a potential reward for a bit of effort)
    the current PC obsession with not hurting pupils’ feelings is pathetic and harms children. it ruins their education. the current system is a disaster. pupils should be there to learn, not to be treated with kid gloves in case the poor dears crumble because they get something wrong.
    read http://passthepenciltest.blogspot.com. some of the little disruptive bastards deserve a red arse, never mind a red pen. the techers deserve a medal for trying to work when attacked daily by thuggish indolent pupils.
    academic selection, testing, streaming, discipline, rewards for effort via subsidised univerity places for top 15% and for less able pupils (we can’t all be clever) a technical education.
    i got hold of a book from 1907 – a book for children called “the child’s book of wonder”
    quote from “sea animals in armour” – the teredo is more feared and disliked than the pholas, for it does enormous damage to wooden ships… it is a long whitish worm , about an inch in length. it can eat it’s way through any wood, though, naturally, it prefers some to others”
    good english? how unfashionable!
    the chapters include Famous rivers, a street corner in beautiful Florence, Austria-Hungary (empire of many races) kings and Queens of Scotland, The downfall of Constantinople, Golf and how to play it, Great composers of music, an insect with twenty-five thousand windows to it’s brain……… and so on. i would guess that this book – wonderful though it is – would be obnoxious to those in power, because it is “elitist” in other words, dull students can’t read it, and it contains too few Ethnic elements.
    Labour are arranging things that a pupil never hears a harsh word, sees the dread colour Red, has no chance of seeing the F-(ail) word. He emerges from school having been shafted by the State, since he or she knows a fraction of what was available in a leisure book from 1907. progress? i think not.
    thanks Tom, for your stance on at least one piece of nonsense.

  46. Indy

    Richard – we live in a completely different world now. That seems to be what some folks don’t get. An education system which may have worked 40 years ago would be completely inappropriate now because the world of work is completely different.

    In the ‘olden days’ you could perhaps afford to segment the education system along largely class lines because there was a whole world of work which no longer really exists – manual labour. What the working class used to do. People working in factories, in shipyards and so on- work for people who didn’t do well at school, but were able to function perfectly well despite that.

    But that world is gone now. If you look at what would be seen as low skill jobs today, such as working in a call centre or in the retail sector – people still need to be literate and numerate to some degree, they will usually require some IT skills, they need to be able to interact with others, they need to have all kinds of ‘soft’ skills which perhaps were not required when folk just had to work on a production line.

    So we cannot afford an education system which creams off the ‘top’ layer and labels the rest thick. That would, in fact, be a recipe for economic disaster. The bar is a lot higher now for everyone and teaching methods have to reflect that.

  47. Simon

    Indy, I disagree entirely.

    We should allow pupils to play to their strengths. Those who are not great academically should not be made to feel a failure, and those who excel should not be made to feel guilty for it.

    Doing an apprenticeship should be as valid as getting a degree.

    We shouldn’t be looking to other countries for people willing to do a hard days work for a days pay, just because people here have come to expect something for nothing.

    It’s this that’ll become a recipe for disaster.

  48. Rob

    You are a member of the ruling party/class. What are YOU going to do about it?

  49. Indy

    Simon – I am not actually making the argument you seem to think I am making. I quite agree that there should be parity of esteem between academic and vocational education. But vocational education is not the same as preparing children to do unskilled manual labour. Vocational courses are as highly skilled as many academic courses, just different types of skills.

    I have made two basic points – the first that children who do not receive support and encouragement at home need to receive it at school. That is something teachers must be aware of. Children need to be praised as well as criticised. They need the carrot as well as the stick. That point was made in the article but perhaps overshadowed by the other elements. There is a very real danger that if you tell a child often enough that they are a failure that will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Very few of us have an innate self-confidence. Confidence in your own ability to succeed is something that is learned, just as a conviction of your own unworthiness can be learned.

    The second point is that it is a fantasy to imagine that the selective education system which existed 40 or 50 years ago would be effective now. Given the changes in the economy and employment market, that approach would in fact be disastrous.

    So, yes, there may be elements of modern teaching methods which people find a little bit absurd but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  50. Andrew F

    In my humble opinion, exam performance is most closely correlated with the amount of effort put in by the student – paying attention in class, doing their homework and assignments and putting in extra hours of study on weekends and in the evenings.

    ie, those that sweat are those that achieve.

    If anything, you may find a correlation between social status and the amount of extra work that parents make their children undertake.

    When you say, “Get a grip and remember who you’re supposed to be representing.”, I took that as implying that Tom is supposed to be representing the lazy, the slothful, the apathetic, the careless, the idle, the indifferent, the indolent, the loafers, the neglectful, the supine, the tardy, the unindustrious and the hebeteudinous.

  51. Barney Waits

    Here’s a good ‘un Tom, from Bristol City Council, who from my long experience are never short of ways of pissing away council tax payers’ money. Worst public transport in the country for starters, but this is a gem.

    Still confused by your blaming the right for PC. It is one of the defining attributes of your mob, the inability to call a spade a spade, and the necessity of using 20 words when 2 will do. Politics by the destruction of language is a very nasty tool indeed.

    Anyway, enjoy – this is a belter.

    http://bristoldaverants.blogspot.com/2009/01/possibly-most-politically-correct-shit.html

  52. “Still confused by your blaming the right for PC.” Maybe that’s because I didn’t, though one of the previous commentators did.

    What I said was: “In the 1980s, the right-wing press had a field day with the antics of left-wing councils allegedly banning the words blackboards, black coffee and ‘man’ in manhole covers, etc. In fact, a lot of it was made up, but the damage was done and Labour paid a heavy electoral price, particularly when our cadidates were drawn from the alleged “loony left” section of the party.

    “Yet today, it’s almost as if Labour (and other) councils are looking at their archived press cuttings from the ’80s and saying: ‘Hmm, that’s a good idea – why didn’t we think of that before?'”

  53. Barney Waits

    PS. Afterthought…

    Best bit is where they refer to the “non-disabled”. Poor, poor, non-disabled folk.

    You’d be hard pushed to make this stuff up. The worrying thing, of course, is that those who vomit this stuff up and force it on everyone else BELIEVE it.

  54. Jules Wright

    yes but Tom, what are you going to DO about it man? it’s all very well to “realise” the ideologically flawed obsessions of your colleagues with a general election year around the corner (makes one wonder what took you so long to clock the bleeding obvious, eh?), but actions speak louder than words. and your government has a rap sheet as long as a giant squid’s tentacle for spinning instead of acting.

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