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It's a jolly good thing, isn't it, that the present government and its advisers who have made such a balls-up of the state education system are still ready to tell us all how to behave.
 
You might think that they'd recognise their failure year after year to provide the nation with schools that are fit for purpose, and run off with their tails between their legs. But no, they're made of sterner stuff than that. They might not have a clue how to run schools, but they sure as hell know that something so important can't possibly be left to teachers and parents.
 
Their latest enthusiasm is for very early years indoctrination. They've recognised how hard it is to win the hearts and minds of teenagers, especially when the curriculum you're offering them is as mad as a cat and only half as useful, so they're going to have a go at brain-washing kids while they're too young to have a mind of their own.
 
Under the new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum for 0-5 year olds which all nurseries must, by law, follow, babies will be given marks for crying, gurgling or babbling. Playgroups and childminders will also need to show that they help babies make progress in no less than 69 areas of education and development or risk losing funds.
 

Does she get extra credits for splashing with both hands?

 
Beverley Hughes, the minister for children, insisted that it was not a "tick-box" curriculum and that she would be "horrified" if people used it to mark babies on a grid from birth. "It is about getting people to think sensibly about the needs of the children they work with," she said.
 
Because, of course, left to themselves they don't think sensibly at all, do they? Makes you wonder how all us Grumpy Old Sods ever made it to adulthood, being cared for by our feckless, thoughtless parents and teachers without the benefit of Beverley Hughes in all her wisdom.
 
The other thing they're determined to address is the issue of racism among the under-fives.
 
In our experience children under five are supremely unaware of each other's race and skin colour, so these earnest educationalists are first going to have to teach the children to notice which one is black, which white and which coffee-coloured, and then instruct them how to be prejudiced against each other. Only then can they start the rewarding work of countering that prejudice.
 
But as shown in a new consultation document prepared by Focus Consultancy for the DfES, the thought police have got the whole thing very well worked out. They take it as read that there is an "embedded and institutional . racism in society", so that "those responsible for working with young children must have an understanding and knowledge about how racism is deeply embedded in our society and its implications for working with all children and their families". So don't bother arguing that we aren't inherently racist in this country. They've already decided: we are.
 
And nothing you can say will be right. The document says "We think that the statement that children from some minority ethnic groups with no early years group experience enter school at a disadvantage is a potentially culturally biased assumption which may reinforce some stereotypical attitudes." In other words, a child who doesn't go to play-school or nursery school before proper school starts is at no disadvantage compared to other children who have had several years' practice at playing together, working together, interacting with each other, following instructions and so on. To suggest that all that experience might be valuable is a "culturally biased assumption".
 
In which case, one might ask why the hell they're so bloody keen on early years education that they're preparing a special curriculum for it. But I expect I'm being nave.
 
The section of the document about "Recognising the implications of inequalities being deeply embedded in society" is a real lulu. It reads
 
"This section could then elaborate on what this means, perhaps addressing some of the apprehensions often found in thinking about these issues, including the following, adapted for all equalities :
 
what the embedded nature means in practice, what is meant by institutional discrimination and its possible consequences
 
how practitioners can be supported to counter embedded inequalities
 
the importance of treating all children equally - this does not mean treating them all in the same way because every child is different from every other one, but treating them differently but equally is important
 
using resources from a variety of cultures in all learning activities
 
recruitment practice to ensure only those knowledgeable or committed to implement equality are selected
 
the importance of these issues in largely white, suburban and rural areas and why
 
the importance of addressing hierarchies of inequality resulting from racism, sexism, disableism and other inequalities and of avoiding cultural assumptions and stereotypes."

 
Is this gobbledygook, or what? The few sentences that do actually make a little sense are quite sinister - "recruitment practice to ensure only those knowledgeable or committed to implement equality are selected" means "agree with us and talk rubbish like us, or you won't get a job". And "the importance of these issues in largely white, suburban and rural areas" means "it's all the fault of you white middle-class b*st*rds who live in the country, drive 4x4s, kill little foxy-woxies and don't have any ethnic neighbours".
 
Incidentally, the MP who said that he had heard people in the army saying "fat b*st*rd" and "ginger b*st*rd" and "black b*st*rd" lost his place on the Tory front bench. I bet if he'd said "white middle-class b*st*rd" he'd have been all right. And "disableism"? - we won't even go there.
 
There are, of course, a great many kinds of racism. The document identifies racial prejudice, racial discrimination, racial harassment, racial hatred/violence, racial assumptions, racial stereotyping, cultural racism, ethnocentrism, institutional racism, structural racism and state racism. So many, in fact, that I doubt if any of us can avoid being guilty of at least one when we're not looking.
 
"Cultural racism" is an interesting one. According to Mark Halstead's book Education, Justice, and Cultural Diversity: An Examination of the Honeyford Affair, 1984-85, cultural racism means that "the culture of minority groups is seen as flawed in some way, and thus as standing in the way of their progress" . "minorities are encouraged to turn their back on their own culture and to become absorbed by the majority culture."
 
Now maybe I'm being a little simplistic here, but isn't that what various members of the government have been advocating lately - that minorities should be encouraged to learn about and participate in the larger British society instead of cooping themselves up in ghettoes? So aren't they guilty of cultural racism, according to this document prepared for a government department? What the hell does the government believe? Do they want a multicultural society or not?
 
Hopefully one day they'll make their collective minds up. Trouble is, when they do they'll couch it in such abstruse language that none of us will be able to understand it.
 
But I bet it'll all be our fault.
 

 
The GOS says: If Patrick Mercer, the Tory front bencher sacked by David Macaroon for quoting the expression "black b*st*rd", is guilty of racism, what about the authors and sponsors of this document? They, like him, have described and discussed racist behaviour, or behaviour that might be construed as racist by someone who was looking for it. When he did so, that was itself racist.
 
The authors of the document, Herman Ousely and Jane Lane, and its sponsors the Department for Education and Science, are obviously racists. Sack them all now.

 

 
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