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In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young


1:43 pm - March 13th 2011

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contribution by Jules Mattsson

Last week I read two columns by journalist Toby Young attacking my old school for celebrating LGBT history month. His lack of understanding seemed to unite pupils, staff, parents and ex-pupils alike in anger over his claims.

The fact that the sole source for his columns seems to be a third hand blog post maybe gives him the defence of wilful ignorance. LGBT issues do not replace the curriculum, nor are they separate to it.

Is the statistic of two-thirds of LGBT students suffering homophobic bullying and 17% receiving death threats really more palatable to him than the celebration of LGBT history once a year?

During a week in February, all sorts of different lessons from music and art to science and politics look at an LGBT themed piece of subject work. The obvious example is looking at Alan Turing across history and maths (Just don’t tell the Daily Mail).

He compared a PE teacher talking about challenging stereotypes in sport to the ‘confessions’ in communist China. He went on to describe 6 girls rugby players as ‘the schools lesbian population’ and to ask “How many ‘transgendered’ pupils could there possibly be at a comprehensive in Stoke Newington?”

Nobody is forced or “dragooned” as he seems to think and I found students and parents alike were happy with the work. This, alongside a tough anti-bullying policy, has near-eliminated all homophobia from the school, and even made it socially unacceptable amongst pupils; a very tough task.

Classes look at the history of the civil rights struggle, feminism and the suffragette movement. Unless Mr.Young still hangs on to the view of LGBT lifestyles as a form of deviance then I fail to understand how he feels they’re so wrong to expose students to? Is this just another case of an easy “[Insert Minority Here] agenda takes over our [Schools/Councils/Other]” story?

Perhaps I would never have had the comfort after I left to realise and be open about my bisexuality had it not been for the atmosphere at SNS. I can’t help but feel the same logic of ‘There’s not many so screw them’ would be utterly unacceptable if it were applied to race or gender.

A few questions are nevertheless raised by this debate. First in my mind is how he plans to combat homophobia in the West London Free School he’s opening? And secondly, of course, the wider debate of how to eliminate homophobia as one of the few remaining ‘acceptable’ faces of prejudice.

There’s always room for an open debate on this, but is lampooning one school’s successful work from afar going to improve things for the millions of LGBT people in the UK who still suffer from prejudice in schools, workplaces and society as a whole?

Interestingly, Mr.Young describes such work as “a waste of precious curriculum time” as he prepares to open a free school where Latin is a compulsory subject.


Jules Mattsson is a photographer, and tweets from here.

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Reader comments


See, I was with you til the Latin comment – despite hating it at school, it was invaluable for learning English grammar as well as helping with most European languages.

Toby Young is a braindead numpty who writes a load of drivel about things he barely comprehends. He’s in company at the Torygraph.

Is this just another case of an easy “[Insert Minority Here] agenda takes over our [Schools/Councils/Other]” story?

Probably, though I’m informed the correct term for such behaviour is that of the persecuted hegemon.

Agree with John @2, not quite sure why “studying queer culture” and “studying the basis for most European languages and cultures” need to be set off against each other. Otherwise, damn right. Toby Young is about as close as you can get to a definition of “bumptious worthless idiot”.

5. Roz Kaveney

I am sure that Toby Young has no intention of allowing homophobia and transphobia to be fought at his Free School and will be very aggrieved when he is made to.

Also, without subscribing to your view that Latin is a waste of time, I wonder how Young plans to have Latin taught without free and frank discussion of the quantity of LGBT history in the works of Horace, Catullus, Plato, Sappho and so on.

Thanks for the comments 🙂

I should probably clarify my point with the Latin, I don’t feel learning it is a waste of time considering it’s great historical, cultural and linguistic significance. More just the irony that he considers LGBT themed work a waste, I’d say neither are personally.

[homophobic comment deleted, user banned]

[deleted as it was a reply]

[deleted as it was a reply]

@9, you really must learn to say “please” 🙂

Sorry, third post,

Good blog Jules. Homophobia is very normalised in secondary school, and the more done to deligitimise it and educate others the better.

In another country Toby Young would be considered an outright fascist.

@11 Left Outside

*appalude*
Excellently put.

I meant *applaude*.

@8 – quite!

“Is the statistic of two-thirds of LGBT students suffering homophobic bullying and 17% receiving death threats really more palatable to him than the celebration of LGBT history once a year?”

Apparently so – and yet he feels some great injustice at being labelled a nasty piece of work.

My personal experience, having attended a single sex grammar school, was interesting: I never once saw or heard any bullying on grounds of race, religion or social background – but ‘accusations’ of being gay, or a poof, or whatever derogatory term was favoured that week, were all too common. And it had very little (as far as I could tell) to do with the victim’s sexuality, whether or not they had come out (only one or two ever did) – the ‘association’ was enough.

Clearly there was an entrenched prejudice against the LGBT identity – which is why efforts such as these (celebrating LGBT history month, etc.) are so important. I fully support the school in this instance.

Toby Young would make a better defender of the idea of free schools if he didn’t seem so determined to criticise any vision of education that doesn’t match his own exactly. Come to think of it, so would Michael Gove.

I’m not sure why Latin seems to always be overdefended. Basis for most European language? Germanic is going to be so pissed off.

Excellent piece.

Toby Young is a man who had to get his wife to make the food for him on Come Dine With Me.

We should therefore recognise him for the useless fuckwit he is. Given that his free school proposals are music to this government’s ears, there’s not much one can do about the impact this will have on the pupils, but we should wait to offer any future QLIGBT students of his support… I hope he really struggles to attract teachers. It makes my blood boil when fuckwits like him think that they know everything about education simply because they have the money to buy their way to the top.

J – yeah, casual homophobia is all too popular in our schools. Part of why I dread entering education. I do hope that some gay Tories will be slapping TY down. Someone needs to ask the fool how many Romans there are in West London (not to be taken as an attack on Latin itself, which I think is useful but should also not be fetishised).

@17 – you’re thinking of entering education?

My partner, mother, five friends, four aunts and three uncles are or were teachers. New Labour utterly, utterly fucked education – it is in the worst state it has ever been in, according to all of them.

(And that’s *before* the Tories start their meddling…)

Good luck! 😛

Excellent blog, Jules.

“A few questions are nevertheless raised by this debate. First in my mind is how he plans to combat homophobia in the West London Free School he’s opening? ”

My thoughts exactly when I read Mr Young’s comments. I have read many of his earlier comments about his Free School proposals with increasing unease and this is the culmination.

It is very difficult to teach children or adults and keep one’s prejudices to oneself – I know I have taught both. But it is a very necessary part of a teacher’s training and good practice to learn to do so. However if a school is to be opened with an ethos already in place – such as in a faith school – parents will know what to expect about certain teaching methods. So parents sending their children to Mr Young’s school can obviously expect their children to learn Homeophobia is NOT a bad thing. Whether this will pass the guidelines of an Ofsted Inspection I cannot say – but since ‘normal school’ students are taught about prejudice one would think that encouraging Homeophobia would not result in an a good ‘grade’.

At least Mr Young is giving the world notice of his bigoted and dangerous views. I really do not want to answer the silly comments of @7 because he is obviously just as bigoted and ill-educated which he shows when saying ” “LGBT rights” are totally different from other rights because they are based largely on behaviour.” It is not worth wasting time and cyber space refuting him and his like.

in answer to Toby Young’s ignorant question about the number of trans pupils at a comprehensive in Stoke Newington, the answer is at least 1%. If he had read my peer reviewed publshed research on the matter he would have realised it. There will be a similar number of trans pupils at his horrible right-wing school in west London. Whether he likes it or not.

[deleted]

‘journalist’ Toby Young. Don’t be ridiculous. If you ever wonder what’s wrong with Britain it’s that people like Toby Young can be taken in the least bit seriously.

@27 Left Outside

I’m not usually a fan of using the kind of language you did @8 above.

However in view of the fact that Stewart Cown is indeed a piece of work just as the link @27 demonstrates, I am inclined to say your sentiments are entirely justifiable in his case.

Stewart,

So you are saying that a man who flits between having sex with a woman then a man, and so on, like a bird flits from flower to flower collecting nectar, is moral, safe and clean?

I’m not the “wingnut”!!

Moral? I don’t care what consenting adults do with each other in private. Why shouldn’t they do as they please?

Safe and clean? I have no idea what sexual activities the OP engages in, nor how he mitigates the risks of said activities – presumably you don’t either.

Goodbye

Good riddance.

25. Mr S. Pill

Troll-feeding aside, this OP is great and I hope Toby Young reads it and considers his own views. He can’t be THAT stupid – I think a lot of his persona is put-on because he knows it’ll get a rise. Sadly the same can’t be said for our foaming-at-the-mouth sexual fascist* who appears to have joined us.

*I don’t use the term lightly.

I highly recommend Kraft von Ebbing’s Psychopathis Sexualis to anyone who thinks modern society has somehow corrupted us. We ain’t got nothing on the C19th perversions documented there.

Very interesting window into the origins of the views Stewarts holds on the medicalisation and formalisation of sexuality through the 19th century.

Stuff by Foucault on sexuality is always quite interesting too, if anybody is interested.

[deleted]

This topic is being trolled and sidelined by a homophoba. I’ve deleted his comments and many of those replying to him. Please don’t feed the troll.

29. Dick the Prick

@Stewart – whoa there pet, you’re on the wrong side of this but I guess you don’t give a toss.

Sort of moving between a few issues raised in this thread I would kinda support a free school which advertised its ethos within certain boundaries being fine to advertise for kids. I did a lot of work with the Cantle report on parallel lives in Bradford and it’s one massive headfuck of a problem with segregated schools but that’s where we are and it will not change. It won’t. Most depressing.

30. Dick the Prick

@Sunny – whoops, sorry.

I’m all for reducing homophobic bullying and prejudice against LGTBs; but I don’t approve of LGTB History Month (or Black History Month, for that matter), because I fear it leads to a reduction in academic rigour.

The important thing is to teach academic subjects rigorously (particularly to disadvantaged children!), though good teachers should mention sexual orientation as and when it is relevant. (I remember c.1971 being taught about Alan Turing by an excellent teacher who mentioned that he was homosexual and that he had tragically committed suicide because of an impending prosecution, etc). Otherwise, issues of tolerance in a pluralist society should be addressed in general studies, assembly and personal and social education. Having LGTB history as a cross-cutting theme for a month results at best in pupils picking up disconnected pieces of information.

Glad to see the tory party is still the nasty party.

Does anyone still believe in Call me Dave’s greenwash? Same old tories, never change. The Li Dems must be so proud in role of human shields they are giving the brown shirts.

33. Dick the Prick

@32 – invective aside, I met a chum in the supermarket today who suspects that subsequent to the Libbers meltdown in the May elections his local authority is going to lay him off as Labour delete his job. Hmm. It’s all very well being tribal but there’s no need to be conceited about it.

I think academic rigour is over rated, schools have long been a place of conditioning. If some of the energy of schooling is transfered from making nice proletarians into slightly more liberal citizens I’ll be quite happy.

Sorry Sunny, but sometimes it is quite fun.

Toby Young is another person who is in a position which is way above his own intelligence.

[deleted]

@36 S. Cowan

Nooooooo, you’re not a homophobe.
A quick look at your blog suggests that you are OBSESSED with lashing out at homosexuality. Bet it keeps you awake at night. Bet there’s issues there.

[deleted]

39. Chaise Guevara

That first article by Young is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read that wasn’t self-published. He unilaterally declares it was written by a different author, to allow himself to make a point about a situation that doesn’t exist. He makes it clear that he doesn’t just disagree with fighting homophobia, but that he thinks anyone who tries to do so is insane by definition. He makes totally inexplicable points, like saying it’s ridiculous to discuss transexuals because none of the kids will be transgender (kids, as we know, only ever associate with other kids, and don’t ever grow up and experience the adult world for themselves). I assume the article is very sensible and witty to anyone who shares both his ignorance and his stupidity.

In the second article he tries to pass off the lies from the first article as jokes, and seems suspicious of the fact that a critic took a couple of weeks to notice his original article – how self-absorbed can you get?

When I saw the title of Jules’ piece, I assumed that someone was complaining that we have LGBT Week but not Straight Week, or something like that. That would at least have some semblance of logic to it. Good article, Jules, but I don’t think LGBT actually NEEDS to be defended against the witterings of a fool.

[deleted]

[deleted]

Really, ever since Toby Young’s absurd claim in the Speccy that the WW2 pilots were mainly public school was exposed as complete piffle, and his graceless apology for it, he’s in the same box as Delingpole, another idiot who blew his credibility, in his case when he failed to realise how brave Hari had been in tackling Islamic homophobia.

What does Nelson think he’s doing with the venerable organ? Give me Taki anyday.

The man has just plummeted in my opinion of him. I really wish free schools could pick up a champion who isn’t an ignorant fuckwit because I really see a lot of good in them. Cheers for raising this, I wouldn’t have realised otherwise as the telegraph isn’t worth reading generally.

@38

Stewart, with respect.
On your blog the first thing a visitor sees is the word “Gaywatch”.

“Homosexuality” has 67 entries, only second to “Totalitarianism” and “Social Engineering”.
I can understand (though I totally disagree in the extreme with you) that you may object to same-sex couples, but perhaps you need to get your priorities right?

45. So Much For Subtlety

“LGBT issues do not replace the curriculum, nor are they separate to it.”

Self-evidently there are only so many hours in the school curriculum. Self evidently, many of those are already taken by nonsense. It follows that if even more hours are taken from core subjects, the core curriculum will be replaced. I fail to see how anyone cannot follow the logic of that.

“Is the statistic of two-thirds of LGBT students suffering homophobic bullying and 17% receiving death threats really more palatable to him than the celebration of LGBT history once a year?”

Nor do I see how this follows from the previous sentence. Yes, we know that bullying occurs in schools. What has that got to do with LGBT month? The intent may be to reduce said bullying, but is there any evidence it does? Not that I can see. What this looks like is a little bit of rhetorical emotional bullying from the author himself – support what I support or you’re killing young children. That is absurd.

“During a week in February, all sorts of different lessons from music and art to science and politics look at an LGBT themed piece of subject work. The obvious example is looking at Alan Turing across history and maths (Just don’t tell the Daily Mail).”

In other words, the core curriculum is being crowded out by LGBT Month. Turing’s sexuality had nothing *whatsoever* to do with his work. Not that High School students are capable of following it anyway. What this means is that children will be taken from learn maths – a poorly taught but vital subject – and will learn a little bit of history instead. If it was possible to examine that history it might do them some good. But I doubt if it will come up in their Finals so is a double waste of their time. The same will be true with any hard subject like science or music.

“He compared a PE teacher talking about challenging stereotypes in sport to the ‘confessions’ in communist China.”

And was it?

“Nobody is forced or “dragooned” as he seems to think and I found students and parents alike were happy with the work.”

So they asked all the students if they wanted to be taken from their core subjects and taught about LGBT month were they? Were they allowed to opt out? Were they asked to opt in? School work, by definition, tends to involve a little bit of dragooning.

“This, alongside a tough anti-bullying policy, has near-eliminated all homophobia from the school, and even made it socially unacceptable amongst pupils; a very tough task.”

And the evidence for this is …. ?

“Perhaps I would never have had the comfort after I left to realise and be open about my bisexuality had it not been for the atmosphere at SNS.”

Perhaps. And yet it does not follow that LGBT Month would have helped you if it had existed. Just because you would have preferred a different outcome it does not mean that your policy prescription is the correct one. Such programmes may well make LGBT students even more prone to bullying. You cannot know.

“Interestingly, Mr.Young describes such work as “a waste of precious curriculum time” as he prepares to open a free school where Latin is a compulsory subject.”

Latin, like any hard subject, is not a waste of time.

“Is the statistic of two-thirds of LGBT students suffering homophobic bullying and 17% receiving death threats really more palatable to him than the celebration of LGBT history once a year?”

Are they really the two alternatives- homophobic bullying or LGBT history month?

Themed history months celebrating a particular group often seem to distort the real study of history to promote an agenda. The LGBT historical celebrations seem to involve a large amount of vacuous speculation about the sexuality of various historic figures like Shakespeare (or often just an assertion that x,y or z was gay) which seems antithetical to rigorous academic standards.

47. Chaise Guevara

@ 45

“Nor do I see how this follows from the previous sentence. Yes, we know that bullying occurs in schools. What has that got to do with LGBT month? The intent may be to reduce said bullying, but is there any evidence it does? Not that I can see. What this looks like is a little bit of rhetorical emotional bullying from the author himself – support what I support or you’re killing young children. That is absurd.”

It’s a bit of a false dichotomy, sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Solid evidence is likely to be hard to attain: I doubt schools keep comprehensive records on bullying trends, and even if they did, and the records showed that bullying had declined, you’d still have no way to prove that the LGBT celebration was the causative factor. School policy isn’t the same thing as a double-blind trial. As such, it seems sensible to provisionally accept the school’s word that the policy appears to be working, unless you’ve got any particular reason to doubt it.

I can see your point RE taking time away from normal lessons (and would need more info to know whether this actually happened in this case), and I also think there’s an argument to be had as to whether ANY political view should be encouraged in schools. But I don’t think a lack of hard evidence is an argument for dropping this sort of initiative. The school has an end to meet (reducing homophobic bullying), it tries something that appears to work, therefore it seems sensible to continue that policy unless there’s a good reason not to.

48. So Much For Subtlety

47. Chaise Guevara – “As such, it seems sensible to provisionally accept the school’s word that the policy appears to be working, unless you’ve got any particular reason to doubt it.”

Well the school has its own liability to cover. They need to be able to show they are doing something in case an LGBT student does hang himself or something. That ought to give us pause before trusting them completely. They may also have an ideological motivation.

“I can see your point RE taking time away from normal lessons (and would need more info to know whether this actually happened in this case)”

According to the author, it did. Instead of learning maths or music, they were studying the injustice done to Alan Turing.

“and I also think there’s an argument to be had as to whether ANY political view should be encouraged in schools.”

And that is the elephant in the room. This is a case where some people do not like the moral lessons parents are teaching their children and so have decided to take over that role for themselves, to teach an ideological viewpoint most parents, apparently, do not support. Or not enough to suit this particular group. That is problematic in so many ways. Even if the goal is good, the mindset behind it is worrying.

“But I don’t think a lack of hard evidence is an argument for dropping this sort of initiative.”

I would agree. I think it ought to be up to the schools. If they turn out children who are Right On but can’t spell, parents ought to be free to make their own choices about where to send their children.

James @ 43

Err, I think you are missing the point of ‘free schools’. The whole point of free schools is o give unbalanced, interfering fuckwits like Toby Young et al access to children’s education. If we wanted well-adjusted, educated and competent people to run our schools, we would appoint them headmasters. The fact is that Toby Young has had no real input into education, yet people think he could run a school!!!! WTF?

Hey Toby, the cure for cancer is coming on a bit slow, don’t you think? Despite never having even so much as read a book on the subject, do we think he could do any better than the World’s oncologists? Perhaps YOU could show them where they are going wrong?

hahahaha wicked you haven’t got to worry about Toby Young. Didn’t they make a crap hollywood film about his crap life? The best thing about that Free School program was the teachers in the school he visited mercilessly taking the piss out of him. I bet they left the best bits out. The program makers couldn’t resist leaving it glaringly obvious that Tobe was promoting Latin without knowing how to speak the stuff. He is funny. I am looking forward to his school.

Perhaps Young fears association with the LGBT community brings some kind of nasty infection.

When will people like this wake up and smell the coffee? We need to develop more tolerance in our schools – not ridicule and hatred. As someone who has watched his daughter get bullied at school over the years, I feel justified in arguing it is the likes of the Young’s of the world who help maintain homophobia and prejudice.

Gay myself, I do have some sympathy with TY.

How helpful is LGBT history month, etc.?

@52 I like how in your blog post you imply that same-sex interations are the only method by which stds are transmitted. Did you perhaps know that lesbian sex is by and far away the safest sex you can have? The moment you start adding penises firing DNA into the mix however…

@53

I guess what the history month is is awareness, knowledge and the knowledge that gay people exist. I see no problem with it. School is a place which should open the eyes and mind of people to what is really out there in the human community.

I remember learning about various African and Asian cultures at school, why may you ask? It’s to broaden knowledge and understanding as knowledge is power. How one interprets knowledge is down to the individual and this is how opinions are formed.

@ 52 thank you for your invitation to view your blog. I have read it with interest because it reminds me why I feel compelled to tell others my views – either by speaking or writing my own blog. But those others are free to listen or read and free to disagree without fear of condemnation.

You and I are not really so different – we both like to ‘share’ our views. Our views may be different but there is one big difference I think. I blog with love and a concern to make our world better for its citizens. You seem to blog with hate and condemnation for those who disagree with you.

Why is liberal conspiracy the number one blog? A bit of a silly question, I hope you don’t mind me saying. It is possibly because it is so good and gets to such a wide audience and covers so many areas? I don’t always agree with everything I read on here. I have praised some blogs and comments and I have argued with some blogs and comments. I have written the odd piece and been lambasted by some and praised by some. That’s what is called free debating.

BTW I tried to find out a bit about you on your blog but couldn’t. Is that deliberate or just an accidental ommission?

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 52 Stewart

“Why is Liberal Conspiracy the Number 1 Blog? – http://www.realstreet.co.uk/2011/03/why-is-liberal-conspiracy-the-number-1-blog/

If you’re going to complain about being “unfairly” labeled homophobic, perhaps you shouldn’t link to your homophobic blog that records a copy of the homophobic comment you wrote on LC before Sunny deleted it. Just a thought.

And yes, I saw your stupid “shout racist and silence your opponent” picture. The vital point you’re missing is that accusations of bigotry are perfectly valid when levelled at a bigot such as yourself. Come back when you’ve learned something.

58. Chaise Guevara

@ cjcjc

“How helpful is LGBT history month?”

Anything that encourages people to see outsider groups as just another bunch of people is probably a good thing. Similarly, I think schools should spend more time on RE than many do now, just because that helps to dispell the myths that religious intolerance is sometimes based on.

If it gets to the point of children being forced to celebrate something that many of them may personally disapprove of, then you have a problem.

@34: “I think academic rigour is over rated”. /facepalm. The lack of academic rigour in state education is a national disgrace, and probably the main reason why social mobility in the UK has declined.

@46: “Themed history months celebrating a particular group often seem to distort the real study of history to promote an agenda. The LGBT historical celebrations seem to involve a large amount of vacuous speculation about the sexuality of various historic figures like Shakespeare (or often just an assertion that x,y or z was gay) which seems antithetical to rigorous academic standards.” — Exactly!

Putting aside Stewart Cowan’s contributions, am I the only person on here who finds the reflex abuse of Toby Young the most disheartening thing on this thread? The assumption of many commentators seems to be “TY does not agree with me, so he’s an idiot”. Having heard TY on radio, I’d say he’s anything but an idiot or stupid etc. He may be wrong; he may be mistaken; he may even be silly (who isn’t at times?); but brain dead he isn’t. So let’s engage with his arguments…Not least because on LGTB history month, he seems to be – very broadly – right.

@ 56 Elizannie

Well said!

The best way to expose bigots and religious nutters like Stewart for the nast pieces of work they really are is to ensure that their bigoted tripe doesn’t go unchallenged.

One of the main reasons in favour of LGBT History Month, or other similar projects to highlight different groups (apart from the added bonus that they get wing nuts like Stewart and his ilk frothing at the mouth), is that they help challenge such vicious bigotry and change the way society in general views groups which they may have little or no direct experience of.

Stewart’s blog, the views expressed therein, and those who post supporting him are indeed fascinating. Reading it is the equivalent of playing “bullshit bingo” at a management meeting; you just KNOW you’re going to see the usual whacky hot buttons being pressed – there is no such thing as gloabl warming, evolution is a fraud, the world is controlled by evil lizards…etc., etc.

Deeply sad that such delusional people still think they represent anything other than a fringe of small minded bigots…but actually quite amusing to poke fun at.

“Anything that encourages people to see outsider groups as just another bunch of people is probably a good thing.”

Of course, though does giving specific groups special “months” help or hinder that “nothing special to see here” process?

62. Planeshift

“Toby Young is a man who had to get his wife to make the food for him on Come Dine With Me.”

I’ve never understood why people who don’t feel confident in their own cooking go on that show.

@ 61 cjcjcj

Although open to the potential criticism you outline, there probably is a case for such events in as much as the groups or minorities being discussed are either sidelined, or may be presented elsewhere in the media or society as a whole as “other”. Children in particular are likely to reflect the views of their parents, peer groups, religious instructors…. sensitively handled, this kind of event should help.

‘The whole of Year 8 has spent the day creating banners and other materials and this afternoon the whole year, over 200 students, walked round the local park displaying their messages.’

It has to be said that this kind of organised mass proselytising does sound rather more like the sort of education that used to happen under Chairman Mao than in a traditional UK school curriculum.

Of course you can argue that’s a good thing……..

65. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 Paul

“Having heard TY on radio, I’d say he’s anything but an idiot or stupid etc. ”

By his works shall ye judge him. Based on the articles cited in the OP, if he’s not an idiot he’s being deliberately obtuse. They make no logical sense and appear to be based on unjustified lies. Forgive us if we don’t all shower him with praise.

66. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 cjcjc

“Of course, though does giving specific groups special “months” help or hinder that “nothing special to see here” process?”

There are other, probably better ways. Problem is, the homophobes are going to kick up a fuss (and probably get an inaccurate write-up in the right-wing press) regardless of how carefully thought-out the policy is. Didn’t we have a load of people bitching on here recently that schools were going to “brainwash” kids because they’d decided to stop pretending that gay people don’t exist in lessons?

It’s better if you can do this stuff without interrupting class time, and if you DO have to have a special event it might be a bit more politic to make it “[Issue] Month” rather than “[Minority Group] Month” (e.g. celebrating diverse sexualities rather than LGBT people in particular). However, putting my discomfort with politics and schooling being combined aside for a second, I suspect that LGBT Month still does a lot more good than harm.

@ 65

I agree: I hadn’t really heard of him before he started banging on about Free Schools (which wasn’t a plus in my book…), but even tho’ I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, the more I read and hear, the less I like him.

Also, he writes for the Torygraph……! Nuff said I reckon.

I think it’s fair enough that TY had some issues with what he called the ”lachrymose” piece by Henry Stewart. This one.
http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/02/celebrating-diversity-at-stoke-newington-school/

He says ”It was so over-the-top – such a classic example of political correctness – I thought it read like a parody written by a brilliant Right-wing satirist.”

Whether you think it was or not is a debate worth having, and I won’t condemn him just for saying that. Millions of parents might not want their children to be making pro-LBGT placards and then parading around in public with them.
It’s a debate to be had, not forced on people I think. I mean, what does a teacher do with a pupil who says that it says in their holy book that homosexuality is wrong. Or that they asked their parents about it and were told it was wrong? Put the kid in detention? Give them a hundred lines saying ”Homophobia is ignorant bigotry” or something?

I’m not sure of this LGTB history month if it’s going to be pushed in such a way. Although I do agree that this ”overwhelmingly partisan” approach divised by diversity equality theory and practice, actually does have positive outcomes too. It was very successful with anti-racism. Whether LBGT is just the same is an interesting idea.
It’s certainly similar, I’m just not sure it’s the same.

@46: “Themed history months celebrating a particular group often seem to distort the real study of history to promote an agenda. The LGBT historical celebrations seem to involve a large amount of vacuous speculation about the sexuality of various historic figures like Shakespeare (or often just an assertion that x,y or z was gay) which seems antithetical to rigorous academic standards.” — Exactly!

Most history is themed.

At the moment the predominant theme is ANCIENT/TUDOR/NAZI but LGBT is just as legitimate a subject for history.

It is a young subject so probably not taught particularly well, but it is a legitimate focus for history in which white, western, male, wealthy, protaginists still play an overwhelming role.

LGBT history is probably too focussed on personality, but ALL history below degree level (and lots at degree level) is too focussed on personality.

What we really need is a Fundamental Attributation Error Month, but I’m not holding my breath.

70. Torquil Macneil

“At the moment the predominant theme is ANCIENT/TUDOR/NAZI but LGBT is just as legitimate a subject for history.”

The Tudors aren’t a ‘theme’ in history, they are a moment in history. This search for ‘themes’ is just the educational sector internalising (as was inevitable I suppose) the values of commercial advertising. I quite agree that gay rights and all rights struggles should be taught as a part of history but I am sceptical that LGBT month is a practical way to do it. Anything that involves making banners is unlikely to involve much education. Actually, a good first lesson in history might well be: ‘if you can say it on a banner it almost certainly untrue, misleading or banal’.

@70 Perhaps the banners were made in art class as part of lgbt month, dangerously assuming art is still a compulsory subject for years 7,8 and 9. It would then still be relevant to the subject matter, no?

Anyone who still has any doubts about Sunny’s decision to ban the odious Stewart Cowan after his homophobic comments above, might be interested to know that it isn’t just his views on LGBT issues that are alarming.

In a discussion on his blog about politically correct over-reaction to jokes he reminds us that he has;

“only ever suggested that death is a just punishment for the traitors who have deliberately changed the fabric of our society for political gain. And I wasn’t joking!”

http://www.realstreet.co.uk/2009/10/treason-like-this-deserves-the-gallows/

Sorry everyone, I was going to bow out of these discussion on the basis that I had had my say. But then something comes along that I just have to refute….

@70 “Anything that involves making banners is unlikely to involve much education.”

I have taught the younger years in secondary education History and engaging their interest in what they often initially think is a boring subject is not done by just standing in front of them, writing on a board and setting pieces in a book to read. Involving them in processes in which their ancestors may have engaged – like making banners for whatever struggle [suffragettes, anti facists in the 1930s etc] and yes Gay Rights is just one of many ways to engage students too.

“Actually, a good first lesson in history might well be: ‘if you can say it on a banner it almost certainly untrue, misleading or banal’.”

I will just refer you back to my last sentence above. I remember the banners when I marched against the Iraq war, many with statements that were derided at the time and have since been admitted to be true. I was not in agreement with those marching on the Countryside Alliance march in 2002 but their banners too told the public what they believed.

Personally: My father marched with others from Wales to England in the Hunger Marches in the 1930s behind banners explaining why those men felt the need to so do. I am currently supporting a pensioners group in their struggle against an injustice perpetrated by their previous employers – the banners they use informs the general public and has helped in their campaign. Like many others across the country I was at an anti-cuts rally on Saturday – unfortunately nothing but the truth was written on those banners. I wish it wasn’t true the dangers to our NHS and other services those banners were proclaiming. Certainly not banal. Misleading? Probably the banners understated their cases.

I choose my words carefully, @70 and I suggest you do the same. Insulting others is not a good way to debate.

@65 “By his works shall ye judge him”. CG: I know you can do better than that — having read your many posts on here, I can see you have a supple, subtle and well trained mind. Controversialists/journalists, like TY, play to a particular gallery: judge him, if judge him you must, by his whole output.

Abusing people’s intellectual capacities because of their label is so very limiting! I have seen (for example) both Roger Scruton and Anthony Barnett abused as utter idiots — and worse — by their political opponents. Yet both are highly intelligent people – with at least something of relevance to say! You (and Galen10) grace this site with your well argued opinions. I may not agree with either of you — being myself, very broadly, right-wing in economics but left-wing on social issues — but I would never call you stupid or brain dead. Whatever you think of TY as a person, many of his views are not daft.

75. Chaise Guevara

@ 68 damon

” “He says ”It was so over-the-top – such a classic example of political correctness – I thought it read like a parody written by a brilliant Right-wing satirist.”

Whether you think it was or not is a debate worth having, and I won’t condemn him just for saying that.”

Well, no, but what about all the things he said that do justify condemnation? It’s the first article linked in the OP that is the main offender, not the second (which I think is the one you quote above).

“It’s a debate to be had, not forced on people I think. I mean, what does a teacher do with a pupil who says that it says in their holy book that homosexuality is wrong. Or that they asked their parents about it and were told it was wrong? Put the kid in detention? Give them a hundred lines saying ”Homophobia is ignorant bigotry” or something?”

I agree with you that this would be unfair, but is there any evidence that the school followed the policy, or that anyone on this thread is advocating it?

76. Chaise Guevara

*Is there any evidence that the school followed THIS policy

“The Tudors aren’t a ‘theme’ in history, they are a moment in history.”

No 1485-1601 was a period in which a lot happened.

Publishing happened, the Colombian exhange began, the reformation happened, the portuguese took over Asia’s spice trade, the dutch east india company entered india, the heliocentric world view was developed.

Schools teach this through Henry VIII monastries, wives yada yada, Elizabeth Armada, Virgin (teeheehee), Mary murder murder protestants, Edward VII died young.

Its boring and bad history and the introduction of sexuality into the history sylabus would improve it. LGBT month isn’t the best way to do it, but it is a start and it makes investments in researching techniques and focus which will hopefully pay off. In the short run, I’m confident it reduces homophobia but of course double blind trials woud be good.

People seem to forget that those children who are not LGBT also gain from education against homophobia. It isn’t nice being a homophobe, it stresses you out, cuts you off from millions of potential friends, and leads you to weird conspiracy theories.

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 Paul

“Abusing people’s intellectual capacities because of their label is so very limiting!”

I don’t think anyone’s calling him an idiot just for being right-wing. Speaking for myself, I’m calling him an idiot because his article uses illogical arguments to defend what appears to be a knee-jerk narrow-minded viewpoint – neither of which are exactly associated with intelligence. See my post at 39 for a couple of examples. And given that the whole basis of his article appears to be a deliberate, demonstrable, and borderline-actionable lie about the identity of the author, he’s not exactly setting a high standard for reasonable behavior.

79. Torquil Macneil

“I will just refer you back to my last sentence above. I remember the banners when I marched against the Iraq war, many with statements that were derided at the time and have since been admitted to be true.”

Slogans on banners are just grunts, their content is beside the point, they are expressions of identity. Nothing worth saying can be said on a banner. That doesn’t mean I am against them, they have their place, but it isn’t in school. If a teacher thinks she is interesting pupils in history through banner making she is deluding herself. She is just letting them off learning any history (for which they will no doubt be grateful and appear thoroughly energised).

@79 I presume you have actually taught a classroom of children before, yes?

81. Chaise Guevara

@ 79 Torquil Macneil

When I was a wee nipper, I generally found that the less conventional the lesson, the more I took away from it, probably because it held my interest better than another hour of copying stuff off the board or talking about the content of a boring textbook. I think you’re generalising from one example.

@ 80 Cylux

You can just imagine the school too, can’t you…? Lots of rote learning, the cane for minor infringements…. ah, the good old days….

83. Torquil Macneil

“Schools teach this through Henry VIII monastries, wives yada yada, Elizabeth Armada, Virgin (teeheehee), Mary murder murder protestants, Edward VII died young.”

As I said, these are not themes they are events. You would prefer different events taught and there all sorts of constituencies who would agree with you ion general (although disagree in the specifics).

“Its boring and bad history and the introduction of sexuality into the history sylabus would improve it.”

Boring and bad (very often) yes, although all the events you mention are fascinating and important and needn’t be dull. But how ‘sexuality’ could be introduced is beyond me, we really know next to nothing about 16 century sexuality because hardly anybody seemed to think it worth writing about. Trying to do it almost certainly leads into fruitless a-historical generalising. It might seem wildly improbable to a 21 century observer that Elizabeth 1 might have been a virgin, for example, but really that is probably just a 21 century prejudice.

84. Torquil Macneil

“When I was a wee nipper, I generally found that the less conventional the lesson, the more I took away from it, probably because it held my interest better than another hour of copying stuff off the board or talking about the content of a boring textbook. I think you’re generalising from one example.”

I am not launching a campaign against imaginative teaching! My gripe was specifically with banners (and posters actually). They are everywhere and nearly always a lazy teacher’s way to avoid any teaching. If your pupils are learning something that can be written on a banner (or a poster), they are not learning anything worth knowing.

85. Planeshift

“we really know next to nothing about 16 century sexuality”

apparently there was a chap called William Shakespere who wrote a few things about it.

86. Torquil Macneil

“apparently there was a chap called William Shakespere who wrote a few things about it.”

If only he had! But sadly he didn’t. For proof read any of the billion commentaries on his plays and poems that disagree entirely on what his sexuality may have been.

87. Chaise Guevara

@ 84 Torquil Macneil

“I am not launching a campaign against imaginative teaching! My gripe was specifically with banners (and posters actually). They are everywhere and nearly always a lazy teacher’s way to avoid any teaching. If your pupils are learning something that can be written on a banner (or a poster), they are not learning anything worth knowing.”

Point taken – and I have to admit that the idea of schoolchildren being told to make banners with political slogans on creeps me out quite a lot.

@ 83 Torquil

My daughter is in the 1st year at university now, studying a degree covering languages and history. She studied History at GCSE, AS & A Level, covering various periods and themes from Roman Britain to the Korean & Vietnam Wars, Civil rights in the USA; Ireland from the Great Famine to the establishment of the republic; Imperial, Weimar and Nazi Germany.

Throughout I was impressed by the standard of the teaching and the resources used. In comparison with my days at school and Uni in the 70’s and 80’s, the standard of work produced and the research and analysis involved was streets ahead. It involved classroom work I recognised even from the olden days when I was at school, project work, and a lot more analysis and independent thinking about more than just events and dates, tho’ these certainly weren’t ignored.

Education has moved on. Too many people are quick to criticise modern methods, and insist standards have fallen without necessarily knowing anything much about the real situation. Students today may have been taught differently…but it doesn’t mean to say things are therefore worse than in the (probably apocryphal) good old days.

89. Chaise Guevara

@ 83 Torquil

“Boring and bad (very often) yes, although all the events you mention are fascinating and important and needn’t be dull. But how ‘sexuality’ could be introduced is beyond me, we really know next to nothing about 16 century sexuality because hardly anybody seemed to think it worth writing about. ”

We know a fair bit from legal records and the like. For example, homosexual acts were a criminal offense (punishable by death, IIRC), but apparently the reality on the ground was that nobody cared as long as you kept it behind closed doors. I think prosecutions for homosexual sex most often came up as part of those long lists of made-up charges brought against those that angered Queen Elizabeth or some other powerful figure.

Shakespeare never made his own sexuality clear (and it’s aggravating when people try to “claim” him for one persuasion or another), but Planeshift’s right to point out that he wrote a lot about sexuality in general.

90. Torquil Macneil

I’m glad your daughter had a good experience Galen, there are still good teachers and schools out there. But there really is a lot of drivel too. Given all that your daughter seems to have covered, I doubt she spent many of her history classes marching on the playing field beneath a banner.

91. Torquil Macneil

“We know a fair bit from legal records and the like. ”

We have some hints and clues in legal proscriptions, sermons, some commentary and court cases, but very very little. We have no good idea about what an Elizabethan sex life might have been like or what Elizabethans thought about it. Did the average housewife expect to have orgasms? We just don’t know. Given that most people had no real private life at all it seems mysterious that most of them had sex lives at all (actually, many probably didn’t since most men never married, but maybe they used prostitutes, had sexualised male friendships, or something else? We have no idea). It is at least suggestive that nobody ever seemed to think it worth keeping a record of such things. No autobiographies. Almost no diaries and none that deal with sexual concerns or even affairs of the heart except in a very conventional sense. They are pretty much a closed book.

” but Planeshift’s right to point out that he wrote a lot about sexuality in general.”

Almost nothing, actually. He wrote a lot about love but it needn’t be sexual love. There is some bawdy, the seething sexual disgust of Iago, but little else, and that usually not from serious or central characters. Sex in itself just didn’t seem to interest writers of this period very much. If it had, we would have a better idea of what sexuality meant in the period.

@ 90

For what it’s worth, I happen to share some of the disquiet about having kids make banners and march around with them; but there again, we are talking about one reported instance. It is dangerous to generalise on the basis of one incident, which may or may not be accurate.

Preparing banners and learning about protests may be a great way to motivate children, and get them thinking about the issues involved… but obviously it depends on the context, the aga and ability of the kids, what the issue is, and how well the activity of making banners is integrated into the lesson as a whole.

The problem of course, is that it is all too easy for ignorant, lazy controversialists to start frothing at the mouth about it being “PC gone mad”, and “abusing children by force feeding them lessons in depravity” or whatever Daily Mail nonsense they fervently want to be the truth.

@74: I saw Roger Scruton talk last year. He gave a very interesting, intelligent speech – until, following the conclusion, he started spouting disconnected, unfounded nonsense about how pop music was rotting the fabric of society and how women always take ages to get dressed because, unlike men, they never know quite what to wear.

There’s a certain brand of stupidity that is articulate, measured and highly intelligent.

94. Chaise Guevara

91 Torquil Macneil

Hmm. My field, insofar as I have one, is English, and as a result most of the historical accounts of Shakesperian Britain I’ve read have centred on, well, Shakespeare. You seem to know a fair bit about the period from a broader historical perspective, so I’m inclined to defer to you here, if I’m honest! I see your point about the way that sexuality is normally addressed by Shakespeare: given the nature of his work, it tends to be high on ideals and fantasy and low on useful historical fact.

95. Torquil Macneil

have you read James Shapiro’s 1599, Chaise? If you like that sort of thing that is the sort of thing you will like. It manages to give a very vivid picture of the period, what we know and what we don’t, while being all about Shakespeare.

96. So Much For Subtlety

73. Elizannie – “I have taught the younger years in secondary education History and engaging their interest in what they often initially think is a boring subject is not done by just standing in front of them, writing on a board and setting pieces in a book to read. Involving them in processes in which their ancestors may have engaged – like making banners for whatever struggle [suffragettes, anti facists in the 1930s etc] and yes Gay Rights is just one of many ways to engage students too.”

Engaging their interest = wasting their time. Sure, you could spend six hours making banners. In which time they will learn nothing of any use at all, but the thicker ones will be relieved they don’t have to learn anything or answer any hard questions. While the smart ones are bored. But they are not disruptive, right?

But they won’t be learning anything.

School should be boring. It is about equipping them for life. Things they will need later. Which more or less by definition they do not need now. Now we could extend finger painting from primary school into high school, but it might be better if they actually learnt some dates and facts.

I have dealt with the illiterate products of these schools. Give me a Pole any day.

@96. So Much For Subtlety

Clearly you know nothing about the psychology of education. If you make banners every day then sure, not much will be learned. It’s about mixing it up and getting them to care. If they care, they remember.

Proven fact: Children at all levels remember and learn better when immersed in an activity. Adults, too, actually. The disruptive ones in ‘boring’ classes are almost always the smart ones who are sick of sitting there now they’ve ‘got it’ and want to *do* something.

The children who aren’t engaged with are often the ones who have difficult reading – and therefore difficulty following dry lessons from the textbook. Are there teachers who over use ‘simple’ things like arts and crafts? Sure. But there’s plenty who over-use the ‘white board and lecture’ technique, too. As the saying goes, all things in moderation…

98. So Much For Subtlety

66. Chaise Guevara – “Problem is, the homophobes are going to kick up a fuss (and probably get an inaccurate write-up in the right-wing press) regardless of how carefully thought-out the policy is.”

The problem really is that you and the Left cannot see how utterly offensive it is to take children and teach them a political point of view their parents do not share. It is like Brecht come to life – if you don’t like the British people, educate a new population.

“Didn’t we have a load of people bitching on here recently that schools were going to “brainwash” kids because they’d decided to stop pretending that gay people don’t exist in lessons?”

No. We had a lot of people pointing out how silly it was to take time off real lessons to push a particular political agenda.

99. So Much For Subtlety

97. Tes – “Clearly you know nothing about the psychology of education.”

Thank God.

“If you make banners every day then sure, not much will be learned. It’s about mixing it up and getting them to care. If they care, they remember.”

That may well be true. But again, they will remember what fun it was not to spend time learning but instead gluing stuff and finger painting and so on.

“Proven fact: Children at all levels remember and learn better when immersed in an activity. Adults, too, actually. The disruptive ones in ‘boring’ classes are almost always the smart ones who are sick of sitting there now they’ve ‘got it’”

Sorry but that last claim is so utterly unreal and out of touch with reality I can only assume you are a teacher. In every class the disruptive ones are the slow, the stupid, the physically powerful and strong. Smart ones are usually too meek to be disruptive even if they are bored.

I would agree people learn better when they are immersed in an activity. The problem is that is what apprenticeships are for. Nothing we want to teach them in class can be taught (either at all or sometimes efficiently or sometimes just well) by doing. Mathematics cannot be taught this way. Just at all. Nor can history. Nor can foreign languages short of going to another country and getting a foreign girlfriend. What you can do is waste time when they will not learn anything at all. Much more enjoyable for the teachers.

“But there’s plenty who over-use the ‘white board and lecture’ technique, too.”

Not in Britain there aren’t. Children have stopped having such classes and so pretty much they have stopped learning too. Children come out of twelve years of education and either their parents have taught them something (or more often, passively allowed them to acquire a lot of knowledge at home by having books) or they know nothing whatsoever. Literally nothing.

@99 So Much for Subtlety

You are in danger of sounding like that monomaniac oldandrew. The ridiculous generalisations in your last paragraph particularly simply read like a regugitated Daily Mail editorial. It simply isn’t true that children have somehow “stopped learning”, except perhaps in your rathered fevered imagination.

The fact that you have some anecdotal experience of young people who are ill-equipped for the modern work place doesn’t make it generally true. Why is it that so many people (more often than not social conservatives, traditionalists) have the atavistic urge to see the bad in everything, whilst idealising some non-existant golden age…. generally when they were a lad/lass?

Many, though admittedly by no means all, students coming out of high schools today have much better numeracy and literacy skills than those of previous generations. They may not be able to trot out by rote screeds of text like their forebears, but they live in a much different environment and generally have superior skills in other areas. Of course, what you are also (conveniently?) neglecting is the fact that there were as many, if not more, problem students in earlier generations….. they were perhaps less visible because they simply dropped out of school early, or were simply abandoned in lower sets until they could leave to take up jobs requiring no qualifications.

Your faith in “all” parents whilst touching, and applicable in many cases, also neglects the fact that many of the problems encountered at school are a direct result of poor parenting, and that the fact that a minority of children arrive at school with no boundaries, and/or have chaotic and have unsupportive home environments.

101. Chaise Guevara

@ 95 Torquil

“have you read James Shapiro’s 1599, Chaise? If you like that sort of thing that is the sort of thing you will like. ”

Started it, but had to give it back before I could finish!

102. Chaise Guevara

@ 98 SMFS

“The problem really is that you and the Left cannot see how utterly offensive it is to take children and teach them a political point of view their parents do not share. It is like Brecht come to life – if you don’t like the British people, educate a new population.”

Sigh. “Gay people exist” is not a political point of view, it is a factual statement. Pretending they don’t exist would be the creepy attempt at re-education.

“No. We had a lot of people pointing out how silly it was to take time off real lessons to push a particular political agenda.”

You’re thinking of a different conversation, then. The proposals under discussion didn’t involve taking any time away from real lessons.

@ 102 Chaise.

Exactly. I don’t get this recurrent argument that the “Left cannot see how utterly offensive it is to take children and teach them a political point of view their parents do not share”.

Does this *really* ever happen? And even if it did in a few isolated cases, why is it seen as such a huge threat, and (surprise, surprise!) a cynical leftist plot? The point of education (the clue as Miss Jean Brodie pointed out) is in the Latin original; to lead out. Presumably some people do simply want their children exposed only to “their” narrow view of morals, religion, politics.

Why do people like SMFS assume that the default position is that children must only be taught a world view which is exactly coincident with that of their parents? They need to be exposed to the world as it is, and equipped with the intellect to make their own choices, not have the opinions of their parents, teachers, priests, rabbi’s, mullahs, peers, politicians, media pundits or celebrities presented as fact.

@ Gallen

Preparing banners and learning about protests may be a great way to motivate children, and get them thinking about the issues involved

That’s fine providing they can choose what to write on the banners for themselves rather than being compelled, as in this instance, to march under slogans devised by the school.

No matter how much you may agree with the apparently liberal sentiment being expressed, that is fundamentally illiberal on so many levels.

@ 104 pagar

Even if the reports of this particular incident (or your take on them) are correct, one isolated incident doesn’t justify the assumption that this is a huge systemic problem, or making the unjustified leap that this just shows how the world has gone mad / the lunatics have taken over the asylum / it’s all the fault of the permissive society, or the Guardian [delete as appropriate].

106. Chaise Guevara

Just clocked this:

“Interestingly, Mr.Young describes such work as “a waste of precious curriculum time” as he prepares to open a free school where Latin is a compulsory subject.”

Um… yes? The author has an irrational hatred of Latin for some reason, I take it? Not only does having Latin let you get direct access to a hell of a lot of historical texts, it also serves as a very useful basis for anyone looking to study or learn modern Romance languages. It tends to crop up all over the place, in fact.

I suspect this rather unfortunate closing comment hails from the idea that Latin is “posh” and/or “old-fashioned”, and therefore automatically wrong.

@106 The author of the OP actually addressed this complaint upthread.

@ Gallen

Even if the reports of this particular incident (or your take on them) are correct, one isolated incident doesn’t justify the assumption that this is a huge systemic problem, or making the unjustified leap that this just shows how the world has gone mad / the lunatics have taken over the asylum / it’s all the fault of the permissive society, or the Guardian [delete as appropriate].

I don’t recall making that assumption or that unjustified leap.

To tell schoolchildren they must make banners and march through a park waving them is not my idea of what education should be but what is insidious is that the children are instructed as to what the words on the banners must say.

I have no problem with my child bringing home the “Save The Planet” poster he made at school providing “Drown The Polar Bears” was permitted as an option.

109. Chaise Guevara

@ 107 Cylux

“The author of the OP actually addressed this complaint upthread.”

Cheers. Hmm. She says that Latin isn’t a waste of time, but then repeats the idea that it’s “ironic” than Young calls LGBT studies a waste of time. So yeah, she still seems to be saying that Latin is a waste of time!

@108 One of the slogans was reported as “Some people are gay, get over it”, was it not? Admirable sentiment, but it is straight from one of Stonewall’s recent ad campaigns. Unless Stoke Newington possesses an unusually precocious Year 8 who decided to use that for his/her poster, I’ll guess it was suggested.

@110 12/13 year olds can be quite precocious ya know.

112. Planeshift

“waste of time!”

If you’re talking about use of subjects in every day situations, then the vast majority of schooling is a waste of time. I’ve never been asked by an employer to write poetry appreciation, colour in a map, or throw potassium into water. 95% of subject content is going to be irrelevant for a chosen career (the 5% relevant will of course be different for each person). What subjects do is impart a balanced knowledge to ensure pupils are capable of functioning the world, hence numeracy and literacy are important. They are also supposed to prepare people with skills like being able to work as part of team, aquiring knowledge and being able to summarise or present it in different ways etc.

Which is where LGBT stuff comes in. There is a decent chance that kids will end up working with someone who is gay, perhaps even having them as a boss, and thus it is better for their employability that they understand the stupidity of bigoted views.

Otherwise the only places of work where they will fit in are the telegraph and spectator.

@109 I’m pretty sure in Mr Young’s schools it will ultimately end up being a waste of time. Can you actually see him encouraging the Latin learned to be used in all the ways suggested in the comments? Or is it more likely that he just wants them to learn Latin just because.

114. Chaise Guevara

@ 113

Oh, agreed. I’m defending Latin here, not Young. I can only defend the defensible!

Teaching children to follow and comply with any political orthodoxy is never a good idea.

http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/HitlerYouth.jpg

Godwin rules OK!!!!!

I read TY’s book “How to lose friends and alienate people” and he cheerfully admits that his preferred “journalistic” approach is to wander up to strangers and start fights with them so that he may then write about the experience.

Seems he’s still working at it.

So Much For Subtlety is CommentIsFree’s resident pub bore MoveAnyMountain and I collect my £5

I couldn’t get back on to carry on this debate yesterday due to the server problems – probably good for others as I was in danger of becoming a bore!

@96. “Engaging their interest = wasting their time. Sure, you could spend six hours making banners. In which time they will learn nothing of any use at all, but the thicker ones will be relieved they don’t have to learn anything or answer any hard questions. While the smart ones are bored. But they are not disruptive, right?”

Oh dear. Knee jerk reactions. Good school teaching is about engaging all levels of ability. Lessons are taught in a variety of ways and if one lesson involves a practical side [such as making banners] this would not be done in silence but as part of a discussion and a Q & A session perhaps [Why have you put this slogan on your banner? Do you think the public would understand it? etc etc]

‘But they won’t be learning anything.’

This is your opinion, to which you are obviously entitled. I beg to differ, to which I am obviously entitled. I know I have engaged the attention of children and adults who have admitted they previously found the subject I was teaching ‘boring’ but were now enjoying.

“School should be boring. It is about equipping them for life. Things they will need later. Which more or less by definition they do not need now. Now we could extend finger painting from primary school into high school, but it might be better if they actually learnt some dates and facts.”

Like Torquil, you obviously belong to the Mr Gradgrind [‘Hard Times’] philosophy of Teaching: Facts, Facts, Facts. But facts and dates learnt parrot fashion DO NOT teach lessons of life from which we can all learn. Students of any age should be taught that learning can be enjoyable and find that the pursuit of knowledge can be exciting. True that does not always happen and sometimes even the most wonderful teacher and the nicest student clash. That happens in later life too. But we can only try.

“I have dealt with the illiterate products of these schools. Give me a Pole any day.”

And they have had to deal with you too. Remember it takes at least two to have a discussion or communicate. And there are many sides to lots of questions and answers.

105. Galen10: “one isolated incident doesn’t justify the assumption that this is a huge systemic problem”

But don’t you know – it’s the rule nowadays to assume the worst/most extreme/an isolated incident is actually the norm?

So when some children leave school ‘functionally illiterate’ (i.e.. fail to come up to the average of 5 good GCSEs) then all schools are failing. Apart from acadamies and private schools, and the forthcoming free schools of course.

And if one school has the pupils making banners – presumably in one lesson – then all schools are doing this all the time.

As to whether education has got much worse – I remember working on the BT share issue around 1992 and noting the number of cheques coming in from people with names like Arthur and Elsie with amounts like ‘ninity pounds’ and ‘fourty pounds’ and ‘aighteen pounds’ so don’t go telling me that there’s nothing like the good old days for education!

“School should be boring. It is about equipping them for life.”

Sigh.

121. Mr S. Pill

@98

“The problem really is that you and the Left cannot see how utterly offensive it is to take children and teach them a political point of view their parents do not share. ”

KERCHING we have a winner, ladies and gentlemen. This is the Tory mindset in a nutshell – teach my kids what my generation were taught – bigoted prejudices and discriminatory mindsets as well. SMFS is the kinda person who would’ve been against the emancipation of the slaves in the US because it went against prior social norms, or against the vote for women for the same reason. Guess what SMFS: you’re on the wrong side of hiistory, here. We now accept LGBT people as (gasp!) human beings and I know, I know, that sounds awful to you but it’s simply the case. Hilariously SMFS uses the word “offensive” in this case – not realising (or choosing to ignore) that the only offense being caused is by him/her and his/her disgusting prejudice against people who happen to fall in love with people of (shock!) the same gender. Get over yourself, SMFS, and go and meet some people out there in the real world. Sure, it might be scary, but who knows, you might make some new friends.
I won’t hold my breath.

@120 It does tell you far too much about the quality and enjoyment of a one Mr SMFS’s life really doesn’t it?

@119 Claire

Exactly so. I know I shouldn’t really bite with a lot of the fusty old “oh it was all better in my day” narrative – I just find it frustrating. As though everything was rosy in the ye olde dayes, or indeed as though the wonderous Poles so beloved of the middle-class-i- need-of-a-tradesman come from some paradise of educational achievement.

You only have to read some of the stuff written by traditionalists like oldandrew who used to come in here banging on about how civilization as we know it is about to end to wonder what alternative reality some of them live in.

“The problem really is that you and the Left cannot see how utterly offensive it is to take children and teach them a political point of view their parents do not share.”

Quite so. Compare this finding a few years back of the HoC Public Accounts Committee:

“Up to 12 million working UK adults have the literacy skills expected of a primary school child, the Public Accounts Committee says. . . The report says there are up 12 million people holding down jobs with literacy skills and up to 16 million with numeracy skills at the level expected of children leaving primary school.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4642396.stm

What could possibly be more embarrassing and offensive for parents who find literacy and numeracy challenging than to discover their children have been taught better literacy and numeracy skills at school?

125. Dick the Prick

To be fair, most teachers aren’t the brightest graduates so I guess they do what they can.

@125 “To be fair, most teachers aren’t the brightest graduates so I guess they do what they can.”

I really laughed at your post, Dick, so thanks for starting off the morning for me in a good way! Your comment is obviously a variation of ‘Those who can do, those who can’t teach’. But what those so anxious to put down the teaching profession refuse to acknowledge is that teaching is a separate skill that is required in addition to the skill of the subject.

I used to sit in on the lessons of different subject teachers so I feel really qualified to answer this comment. Sure, there are bad teachers just as there are bad doctors, dentists, shop assistants, politicians, taxi drivers, students ….. Get the picture? The duty then of school management is to step in and support a bad teacher and hopefully retrain and assist them with [to use the buzz phrase] continuing profession development.

But on the other hand there are brilliant teachers who inspire their students and maybe engage them. They also enjoy their job. They spend a lot of their freetime and holidays on research and lesson plans. And I am not even going to mention the marking or after school activities!

127. Dick the Prick

@126 – Elizannie; glad you liked it. My parents were teachers, my ex is a teacher, my sister in law’s a teacher. Yeah, just a bit of sport winding them up. All good fun.

I remember going to a party a few years back and I swear to God I was the only non teacher there; gadzooks it was hard work – ‘stop bloody talking about teaching, don’t any of you do S&M or anything?!?!?

@127 Oh Dick I do agree with you about teachers en masse. But actually that tends to be true about any ‘mass’ of any profession. After many years with Other Half I can now talk very knowledgeably about the motor industry, which surprisingly has actually come in useful on occasion. On the other hand he can also talk about metaphors and plot devices and the Married Women’s property act of 1870! Mind we are often avoided at parties especially when we then start ranting about the present government…..

Believe me, it’s mostly a huge and welcome relief to be able to talk occasionally about topics unrelated to football, the weather or personal health, the normal staples of congenial English conversation.

130. Dick the Prick

@Elizannie – really, people avoid you when ranting about the present government? How rude. I, for my sins, worked really hard to get the Tories elected – in the end up to about 80+ hours a week ( subsequently quit a couple of months after) but if pushed, if really pushed would have to say i’m more Tory than anything else and happily enjoy people ranting about them. It’s always nice to chuck in the ‘you don’t know the half of it buddy’ and keep it going. ‘And another thing, while i’m at it!!’. All good fun.

The good thing about it is that not much has really happened – it’s just guff to appear like there’s action. I think the odds have shortened on the coalition lasting the distance. Ah, the Married Women’s Property Act – good times, good memories! All the best.

131. Chaise Guevara

@ 126 Elizianne

“Your comment is obviously a variation of ‘Those who can do, those who can’t teach’.”

Annoying phrase that, isn’t it?

“But what those so anxious to put down the teaching profession refuse to acknowledge is that teaching is a separate skill that is required in addition to the skill of the subject.”

Very true. I’ve known teachers who commanded very good knowlege of their subjects, but just weren’t good at engaging with their pupils. In some of the sadder cases, it was clear that they could have done very well under other circumstances: for example, some could obviously have taught a class of college students, but just lacked the presence needed to keep 30 secondary-school kids under control.

In any case, it’s very trying that some people assume that anyone who decides to be a teacher must have failed at doing any “proper” work in their field. Teaching is one of the most important jobs out there.

When teaching children about LBGT, do you tell them about the Q and I also?
I have an idea about ”queer” but never heard of intra-sex untill today. I’m still not sure what it is. But ‘in for a penyy in for a pound’ I suppose. If you’re going to teach it you might as well tell them everything.
What you say about promiscuity though I don’t know. Is that to be put on a par with monogamy and long term relationships?

I remember getting into trouble with my head of year at school, because during sex education in biology, I had asked the teacher about various ‘exotic’ sexual practices, when he was just giving the basic mechanics of reproduction and he complained about me to my year master. I was then told to get my mind ”out of the gutter”. That’s uptight catholics for you.
But it wasn’t me who had brought up the subject of sex, and thought if that wasn’t the place to ask, where was?

If I’d ever heard of ”pegging” back then (in the 70s) I might have asked him about that too. Mr Door his name was. A right tosser.

133. Chaise Guevara

@ 132

“What you say about promiscuity though I don’t know. Is that to be put on a par with monogamy and long term relationships?”

Is there any need to place a value on any of these things?

@133

Is there any need to place a value on any of these things?

Of course there is no need, but a couple of thousand years have culture have, and we have in some parts of the word only recently shrugged off this cloak of backwardness.
What interests me is what we do with the people who aren’t as far down this road than others. Like what do you do when you have parents say that they don’t want their children having this LGBT(Q) education?
They tell their children at home that homosexuality is forbidden and wrong. ”Dirty” even.
So in that case, teaching an LBGT ”agenda” – which is political itself, might be against the parents rights to bring up their children as they see fit.

It all depends on what would actually be taught to the children I suppose, and how they would deal with with some (older) children who resisted the teaching.

99. So Much For Subtlety

“Sorry but that last claim is so utterly unreal and out of touch with reality I can only assume you are a teacher. In every class the disruptive ones are the slow, the stupid, the physically powerful and strong. Smart ones are usually too meek to be disruptive even if they are bored.”

That statement is so utterly ridiculous I can only assume you are a troll trying to say the most inane thing possible to get a reaction. Consider my lesson learned.

136. Chaise Guevara

@ 134 damon

“So in that case, teaching an LBGT ”agenda” – which is political itself, might be against the parents rights to bring up their children as they see fit.”

These rights are limited. You can’t, for example, bring up your kids as full-time workers in your factory. We already dictate by law that parents ensure their kids receive an education.

So the question is: what form does this education take? I understand people not liking the idea of schools teaching political and moral statements as fact, including “it’s ok to be gay”. So I’m fence-sitting on this particular issue. But teaching people ABOUT gay people – i.e. not pretending they don’t exist – is purely factual. It contains no political or moral statements.

137. Chaise Guevara

@ 135

I assume he gets all his information from the Beano. Especially as he thinks that teachers must be especially ignorant of class behaviour. Just as pilots know nothing about flying.

138. Allan Beavis

I agree wholeheartefly with Jules. I have a child studying at Stoke Newington School and another will start there in September. Unlike Toby Young, I was in the audience of the LGBT Concert. Of course there was a serious aspect to the evening but it was also enormous fun and actually largely a demonstration of what the students had learnt about and been inspired by LGBT awareness. It was very positive, glorious, it made your heart sing….so it was just dispiriting to read what Toby Young had wrote. When you come down to it, it wasn’t really an attacked on the school but a tirade against all those “left wing nutter” critics who have been asking very pertinent questions about the foundations of free schools.

Unpleasant as this has been, none of this would have much wider repercussion were it not for the fact, despite being the founder of a new school, Mr Young appears unaware that his school has a moral and statutory duty to teach not just the academic curriculum but also the civic PSHCE topics covering inclusion and diversity such as LGBT awareness. There now has to be concern for LGBT teachers and students at his school, if their Governor has already expressed derision towards a school which is tackling discrimination. And should other minorities in his school now wonder if they will have the support of the Chair of Governors if they face intolerance or bullying?

Toby Young has been very energetic and public in his mission to pre-judge, misrepresent, ridicule and divide. His conduct and his judgement have been seriously flawed and therefore his suitability to be involved at the highest level in the education of children has to be called into question. It is interesting that he penned these articles, as an attacked against critics of free school right after the Government effectively gave him the green light to go ahead with his WLFS. The Department of Education website page states quite clearly that Michael Gove “would expect that all proposals will comply with all aspects of the rigorous suitability and vetting tests throughout the application process, including CRB checks, and will reject any proposers who advocate violence, intolerance, hatred or whose ideology runs counter to the UK’s democratic values.” And with David Cameron so keen to back LGBT week and to see equality “embedded” in schools, how can his views be compatible with Government policy?

IF you feel strongly about this, I suuggest you write to Andy Burnham, Shadow Education and also the Department of Education to voice your concerns.

139. Robin Levett

@damon #134:

“Like what do you do when you have parents say that they don’t want their children having this LGBT(Q) education?”

Exactly the same as when parents say that they don’t want their children taught to treat members of ethnic minorities as human beings; tell them that if they don’t like their children taught how to be functioning members of a civilised society then they should lump it.

I agree with your CD Release Jun 17th @ Gowanus Ballroom | Verismo, great post.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  2. Dr. Matt Lodder

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  3. Emily Davis

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  4. Annette Barlow

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  5. Simon Godefroy

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  6. unionworkeruk

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  7. Jason

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  8. Amber of the Island

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  9. The Dragon Fairy

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  10. Anthony Babajee

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  11. Owen Millard

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  12. Chris Ashford

    RT @MyGayDVDReviews: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young | Liberal … http://bit.ly/dNANha

  13. Donnacha DeLong

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  14. Barnet Alliance

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  15. Liberal Ideals

    In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young | Liberal …: During a week in February, all sorts of d… http://bit.ly/hMcmL5

  16. Rachel Hubbard

    In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young | Liberal Conspiracy http://goo.gl/yA3ma

  17. Holly Smith

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  18. ??doo? ???????

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  19. Jules Mattsson

    @northsixteen Hey 🙂 Would you mind tweeting this? http://t.co/CxV1w8w It's a reply to Toby Young on Stoke newington school.

  20. northsixteen

    RT @julesmattsson: @northsixteen Would you mind tweeting this? http://t.co/CxV1w8w It's a reply to Toby Young on Stoke newington school.

  21. Wolf Luecker

    RT @julesmattsson: My piece in defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://t.co/CxV1w8w on @libcon

  22. Mary-Ann Foster

    RT @northsixteen: RT @julesmattsson: @northsixteen Would you mind tweeting this? http://t.co/CxV1w8w It's a reply to Toby Young on Stoke …

  23. Henry Stewart

    Reply to Toby Young on LGBT week at Stoke newington school, from ex-student: http://t.co/CxV1w8w

  24. bel

    RT @happyhenry: Reply to Toby Young on LGBT week at Stoke newington school, from ex-student: http://t.co/CxV1w8w

  25. Donald H Taylor

    RT @happyhenry: Reply to Toby Young on LGBT week at Stoke newington school, from ex-student: http://t.co/CxV1w8w

  26. HarryGreiner

    RT @happyhenry: Reply to Toby Young on LGBT week at Stoke newington school, from ex-student: http://t.co/CxV1w8w

  27. Andy S

    In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young (Tory Golden Boy) http://flpbd.it/AbzL

  28. Daniel Pitt

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  29. Itsmotherswork

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  30. Andy Hicks

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  31. Derrick Butler

    @DerrickButler In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young | Liberal … http://bit.ly/i3iYg0 http://www.mydreamalive.com

  32. Derrick Butler

    RT @DerrickButler In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young | Liberal … http://bit.ly/efjfdf http://www.mydreamalive.com

  33. allanbeavis

    RT @happyhenry: Reply to Toby Young on LGBT week at Stoke newington school, from ex-student: http://t.co/CxV1w8w

  34. allanbeavis

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  35. allanbeavis

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  36. pauljcripps

    RT @libcon: In defence of LGBT History Month: a reply to Toby Young http://bit.ly/fmgGs3

  37. Jules Mattsson

    @PaulNez @mrmatthewtodd i'm lucky that I went 2 a school that taught lgbt history well, something some r v.much against http://t.co/LtbnzSYy

  38. Jules Mattsson

    Of course, Toby Young has previous for being a bit of a prat in that column… http://t.co/zEcBSkbR (My reply http://t.co/Ltbj2iPo)





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