Thursday, 7 July 2011

At the heart of the community

Unless I am prodded, attacked, or feathery-ruffled by control freaks like Ed Balls, I usually do not blog about news. Not news, research findings, current affairs, or other people's opinions.

This is practical. It is driven by the fact that I happen several days behind everyone else.

By the time my time comes round to your time, you have grown old, got a beard, or the newspaper is closed down. There seems little point in now explaining my fantastic idea about how you could close one newspaper down to open up a nice shiny new one.

Anyway, the news today (or maybe last week), did prod me. (And the other option is explain in miserable detail how I tried to buy Neat Deet. No chance. It is apparently easier to persuade Boots to sell you crack cocaine.)

The news (which is no longer news when you read it here) is that, thanks to the withdrawal of the local school, Opera North pulled the sadly appropriately named Beached.

Like I needed yet more confirmation about the present role of schools in society!

Well here it is. How the National Curriculum is manipulated to strangle creative initiative. How education is administered by middle management types, aka head teachers, to serve political and administrative interests rather than genuine learning. How valuable opportunities, filled with potential for community involvement, can be so criminally squandered.

What staff at the school spent time on the project doing, I don't know. Either people knew trouble was brewing but institutionally were made powerless - shame on the system - or staff genuinely did not foresee anything - shame on them.

If the latter, isn't that an astonishing lack of thinking through how the project would involve them? Did they imagine it only meant a co-branding exercise with Opera North or Lee Hall? Did they only look so far ahead to what publicity they could gain from it, rather than what education they could make it provide? If the teaching staff are not able to take circumstances like this and wring something from it, what are they doing with this word education?

Wherever the shortcomings, it shows a serious lack of being able to predict where on the offensive-rating scale the opera would lie (1 for not much, we'll ride it, 10 for I'm pressing the nuclear button). I can hardly bear to say it, but the simple precaution of reading the libretto in advance might have helped.

And as for the defence - that it's an honourable stand, resisting a homosexual agenda pushed at five year olds.

What? Oh please. The children aren't now aware their school is named in the national news? They didn't know why the opera was scrapped? They're not asking questions?

And seriously, as far as the 'offending words', you could have told a bunch of five-year olds what you liked. They usually have their heads screwed on the right way round, and aren't much interested in anything unless it includes a plastic dinosaur and a sandpit.*

More, they will each know their own family in their own way, however it's comprised. Feeling safe and being loved is much more important than whether you've got one grandparent, two dads or three mums. Accepting every permutation as normal can only be helpful in building a more accepting and equitable society.

Which the school evidently isn't interested in doing.

* Just for the parent who assumes we home educate so I can keep my children away from sex education, I'd like you to know that I have introduced my children to the science of turkey giblets and lady gardens and the plastic dinosaurs won every time. These days it is pretty much 'we will let you know when we are interested in exploding body parts and cell division thank you very much. And who cares whether she has two mums or two dads? Now get out the cake.'

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