Daily Mail's Hatchet Job On Teachers After MN Thread

(122 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 07:06:29

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581883/Teachers-rants-mother-hit-four-letter-words-lessons-Complained-14-year-old-daughter-studying-play-containing-400-swear-words.html

I remember OPs thread well. In fact I am the first of the teachers whose MN comment is selectively quoted by the Daily Mail.

Selectively, because what I also pointed out to the OP is that she had acted in a very unreasonable manner by naming the school and making the teacher and her daughter easy to identify. I also called her out on the way in which she manipulated the head teacher's comments to her to make it sound as if she were supported by the school in complaining about the teacher's choice of text.

OP said she was asking for the thread to be removed because she had made herself and her daughter's school too identifiable. Obviously she doesn't have those concerns now, since she has named the school to the press! Of course that wasn't the real reason she wanted it removed.

Nor did she ask for it to be removed because she was so 'shocked by the vile abuse.' She asked for it to be removed because NOBODY agreed with her, wanted to sign her petition or felt she had any case against the school. After all, she failed to withdraw her child from the class when given the opportunity to. She was told by poster after poster her actions were unreasonable and her petition a joke.

I received an email from MNHQ on Friday - which I did not see until Saturday morning - asking me if I wished to contact the 'journalist' writing this story. I wanted to re-read the thread first, but couldn't for the reasons given above. By then it was apparently 'too late' because the deadline was to comment/contact was thought to have passed anyway. And the story is now published.

Of course the Daily Mail journo didn't just 'happen' to see the thread and decide to write a story. After all, the thread was only there a couple of hours before the OP had it deleted. The Daily Mail ran this 'news' story because OP contacted them, wanting to publicise her petition and her disagreements with the school. Furthermore she clearly copied the thread before having MN delete it so that she had the quotes to give to the Mail.

So dear Daily Mail, let me clarify a few things for you:

- I stand by my comments about the OPs desire to impose her values on the school and enable censorship.
- I stand by the fact that I use expletives. It's a free world and a public forum. The fact I chose to swear on it does not devalue me as a teacher. Many, many other people swore on the thread. Presumably however a news story saying 'people swore on public forum' is not as 'newsworthy' as a headline about 'teachers' foul mouthed rants' and a 'torrent of foul mouthed abuse by teachers'. It's the T Word isn't it? You just love to teacher-bash.
- Many - apparently non-teaching - posters agreed with what I and other teachers posted about the OPs attitude towards the use of the text and her attempt to impose narrow minded values on the curriculum and have a highly respected play removed.
- the OPs actions in naming the school and making the teacher identifiable were disgusting. As I said at the time, the teacher concerned remained - and has remained - professionally quiet on the entire matter. Unlike the OP. The fact she has now taken this 'story' to the Daily Mail is of no surprise.
- I'm always happy to stand by my opinion Daily Mail. Perhaps next time you are scrambling to try to fill a few column inches before deadline you could make a greater effort to contact people before you go to press or alternatively, you could fill your paper with something a little more useful, unbiased, researched and, dare I say it, not culled off a public forum?
- any of the students I teach would have been shame-faced at producing such a deliberately biased, one sided and ill-informed piece of writing. They would have commented on the fact the writer was deliberately selective in the quotes used and sought only to produce a piece of shock-value writing to inflame feelings and be provocative. The writing was not designed to add anything to a debate on the value of the play - the value of the play is never mentioned, nor is anything said of the high critical acclaim it has received - but was clearly, from the start a piece aimed at bashing teachers and flattering the point of view of the complainant mother. My pupils would also have pointed out, Daily Mail, that having quotes from 2 posters who 'claimed to be teachers' does not allow you to extrapolate a headline about 'Teachers rants at mother' or a comment about a 'torrent of foul mouthed abuse by teachers' as you lack any convincing evidence that the commentators are teachers. So you apply collective responsibility to all teachers on the flimsiest of evidence.
- Although, just for the record, I am a teacher. And in my classroom Mr. Petre, DM journalist your average article length (published in the last 12 months) of 617 words would be considered a 'disappointing' level of work. In my classroom 617 words is barely a paragraph and would not be considered sufficient to allow a proper examination of the issue under discussion. It's amazing what the internet can tell us, isn't it?

Blu Sun 16-Mar-14 20:38:46

Hear hear, Adoptomama - with your degree in English twitterature wink.

And indeed, LOL at the thread needing to be deleted byt she copies the whole thing to tote to the DM complete with her dd's actual name.

Um, although I feel strongly about the need of professional judgement to be trusted and prevail over the literary merit of texts, and very strongly about uneducated teacher bashing, I do feel that it is unethical that this thread contributes yet more to a debate in which a named and identifies minor is implicated.

Oh...and those calling for traditional texts - let's start with Chaucer....... Oops, no, plenty of stuff there to offend the sensibilities of those unable to see an example of a fictional character acting true to character without it being an act of glorification.

Lets make a list of writers to ban:
Chaucer
Marvell
Shakespeare
The whole Restoration canon....
.

thegreylady Sun 16-Mar-14 20:49:38

They should read The Miller's Tale instead smile

tiaramasu Sun 16-Mar-14 21:24:08

Are you still glad that you wrote what you wrote op?

lionheart Mon 17-Mar-14 10:59:36

It's a win-win-win for the DM. Mumsnet, Teachers and Political Theatre.

But you are right, OP, the person who loses out in all this is the teacher, unless she/he has a really supportive work environment.

Amrapaali Mon 17-Mar-14 11:15:17

If there is a special circle of Hell filled with unimaginable, unspeakable horrors, then it is surely reserved for the DM and all who sail in her.

My sympathies OP. And agree with the poster who pointed out the paper's hypocrisy- objectifying women and at the same time pearl clutching at swear words, in the context of a play.

PiqueABoo Mon 17-Mar-14 11:33:17

It's juvenile. The fundamental issue is a complex one and there has been too much self-righteous tosh from both sides of this particular fence.

maillotjaune Mon 17-Mar-14 17:33:14

This is being discussed on radio 5Live right now. Could hardly hear the mn quotes at the start but it seems to be getting a reasonable discussion now. The teacher coming across better than the mum.

Feenie Mon 17-Mar-14 17:41:02

Yep, she came across as a total arse - and got completely cut off when she started to say that they were studying the play behind her back. hmm

Blu Mon 17-Mar-14 18:30:21

Do enlighten us into the complexities, from your more mature pov, piqueaboo. With examples to illustrate your argument.

(and just to re-cap, as we can no longer refer to the original text, the ColesNotes on the deleted thread inform me that it covered Film classification, The Watershed, cultural sensitivities, the nature of fiction, censorship, free speech and sensitivities, vernacular context, the ethics of identifying your child and your school in a petition on the www, a critique of Mogadishu the play...and probably plenty more.

What else should be covered?

tiaramasu Mon 17-Mar-14 18:46:35

Are you ok, op?

Feenie Mon 17-Mar-14 18:56:57

Why wouldn't the OP be okay? confused

motown3000 Mon 17-Mar-14 19:10:07

The Mail were obviously looking for a Story to fill Inches and with the Teachers Strikes Coming up it was a great opportunity for a target.

The Poster talking to the "Mail" is Pathetic and needs to get a life.

Having said that "What was the Teacher thinking" having 14 and 15 year old's doing a Controversial and Explicit play . It is obvious that such a play is not suitable in the Classroom ( Including A level). If a student wants to watch such Films or Plays they should do so out of school time.
What are the going to do next A Play based on "Scum" or Kidulthood"

The classroom is not the place for "Gritty And Realistic" dramas .

KittyVonCatsington Mon 17-Mar-14 19:33:12

I read this article today and the first thought I had was, would the mother object to her daughter learning about Chaucer? After all, he uses the word, 'queynte', which is the earliest known form of , in The Wife of Bath. But hey, I'm just a lowly, foul-mouthed teacher - what do I know?

Excellent original post, OP.

KittyVonCatsington Mon 17-Mar-14 19:34:20

That should read, I read this article today and the first thought I had was, would the mother object to her daughter learning about Chaucer? After all, he uses the word, 'queynte', which is the earliest known form of cunt, in The Wife of Bath. But hey, I'm just a lowly, foul-mouthed teacher - what do I know?

Excellent original post, OP.

Ubik1 Mon 17-Mar-14 19:44:07

I remember doing Tony Harrison's amazing poem 'V' at school. All these years later.

This sort of moral panic reminds me of the film Donnie Darko where the parents are burning copies of Graham Greene's The Destructors while greater obscenity and outrage is going on all around them.

I remember all my English teachers smile I'm glad that the teachers on this thread are prepared to allow children to think critically about literature, I'm glad they are introducing challenging material.

TheVictorian Mon 17-Mar-14 20:06:25

It does seem odd, if the parent was not happy with the text that her dd was studying they why did she allow her to be in the lessons studying said text.

adoptmama Mon 17-Mar-14 21:19:34

I've been a bit shock about the whole thing actually.

because Mrs X had the thread deleted (although only after she copied it so she could share (and edit??) it with the DM) and only selective quotes were used by the DM it is presented by them as if she posted something on here and the immediate response of others - teachers and non-teachers, but especially teachers - was to rip into her and swear.

That's not what happened and I would appreciate MN actually reposting the - entire and unedited/uncensored - thread to show that. What happened, to the best of my recollection (which may be off, I do not claim to be perfect) was the Mrs X then followed up with some especially nasty comments about teachers not being fit to be left to make judgements about what to teach and therefore needing more moral people to stand over them in judgement.

People like her.

I, like many others, found her tone patronising and insulting. I thought the fact that she was very, very happy to make her daughter's teacher identifiable in this way disgusting and totally wrong. I found the way she twisted the head's words dishonest and misleading. I found her actions lacking in morality. Which is ironic considering she feels she is better placed to identify what is moral and what is a relevant and appropriate play for teens to read as a GCSE text despite a) never having read it b) not being a member of the educational qualifications authorities c) not being a teacher. I found her hypocrisy quite astounding.

And so yes I used the F word in a post. And I posted my feelings about ill-informed meddling in the curriculum of schools. I pointed out that I, like the overwhelming majority of my colleagues, try day after day to do our best by a huge range of children. We rarely receive public praise. We receive a lot of public criticism. Some is justified. But rarely to be honest since what tends to happen is that one bad teacher is held up to the peanut gallery as proof everyone is crap.

And I strongly objected to the way she made the school and the individual teacher identifiable in the way she did.

Am I still glad I wrote what I did tiaramisu? Been pondering that one. And finally the answer is yes.

Just because I am a teacher doesn't mean I cannot use 'bad' language. Nor does it mean that I am a bad teacher, uneducated, deserving of police investigation or needing to be struck off the teaching register (all of which should happen according to some of the more hysterical posters on the DM). It doesn't mean I have to sit back and let someone I consider monumentally ill-informed and offensive use a public forum to attack an innocent teacher. The fact I am a teacher does not mean I must be silent if I do not want to be.

There was a lot of swearing on that particular thread. The majority of it was being done quite deliberately by many posters as a wee poke at Mrs. X and her Victorian Vapours reaction to bad language. I believe if you post asking for an opinion on a public forum - and one which does have a reputation for, er, 'salty' language and 'robust' opinions - then you shouldn't actually go complaining when you get opinions you don't want. You especially shouldn't go complaining to a bloody newspaper. It is just ridiculous!

I consider what Mrs X did in going to the media like a sulky child who can't accept the being told 'no' to be bullying of a very serious nature. I consider it a moral duty to speak out against bullying. That might sound a bit OTT to some people, but honestly, it is exactly how I feel. The teacher concerned cannot speak out in her own defense. As a colleague - even one who has never met her - I feel that it is most definitely within my rights to do so.

I may have done something some people consider teachers have no right to do - express an opinion and do so with a couple of swear words thrown in for emphasis.

On the other hand I haven't tried to destroy the career of someone trying to help my child.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Mar-14 22:23:07

Motown'- why should schools avoid controversial, gritty and realistic texts? I teach drama. I have not used the play the debacle is about, but have used Mark Ravenhill's excellent play Citizenship with Yr 10 which examines a range of issues in a gritty and realistic way. Allowing teens to explore these issues in a safe and controlled environment. Context is key. The same is true for strong language - the power of language is a phenomenal thing for young people to explore. Using a play with swearing in it is no more encouraging teens to use foul language than studying Romeo & Juliet is encouraging teen suicide. My students are intelligent and mature enough to understand that, as are their parents.

pointythings Mon 17-Mar-14 22:36:50

I was on the original thread too and I stand by everything I said, including waving pom-poms at adoptmama for standing up against calls for censorship.

What do we want our GCSE students to be reading, the Rainbow Bloody Fairies?

motown3000 Mon 17-Mar-14 22:47:56

Eviltwins. I get where you are coming from, but some Plays or texts are better watched away from a classroom environment.
The play/Book was written from the view point of 15/16 year old but it does not mean, it Is right for under 18s to perform it. ( I would be very disappointed if my 15 year old DD read it for Literature. If it was performed at my 13 Year olds
DDs Grammar, the parents would "Storm" the school if such a play or text was read/ performed. I presume Citizenship is similar to "Made in England" in context.
It is great in theory but two things pop out for me ( Do Students need gritty and true Representations of there lives in a School Environment, It is also going to offend at least 25% of parents )

Where do you "Draw the Line" Would a Modern take on Clockwork Orange be acceptable. , What about Recreating Ray Winstone Smashing the Snooker Balls in his rivals face in "SCUM".

motown3000 Mon 17-Mar-14 22:50:46

Their Lives,

BaileyWhite Mon 17-Mar-14 22:57:02

I studied the Millers Tale aged 13 1/2/ I have yet to attack men in the streets with a hot poker.

So pleased to see this thread Adopt and wanted to add my support to our wonderful hard working teachers and their profession which is slowly being destroyed.

That poor child having a Mother like that. God help her.

Oh and BTW I use a website called ' Tea & Kittens'. Every time you accidentally try to click on a link that turns out to be the Daily Fail, it immediately takes you to a lovely site full of the eponymous 'items'. Here it is.

And the reason I know what eponymous means and how to spell it?

A Teacher.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Mar-14 23:01:27

For a start, I think most kids are aware that drama is not real and that they are perfectly capable of understanding the difference between a play and reality.

The point about these modern gritty dramas is that they tend to deal with real life issues - often things like racism, violence, sexuality, adolescence and so on- things which teenagers are interested in and concerned about. Placing these issues into an "extreme" situation means that teens can talk about them hypothetically. This is a good thing. It can help them come to terms with things they may be going through themselves. Take Citizenship. Opening scene - Tom & Amy. Amy fancies Tom but Tom thinks he's gay. Tom doesn't want to tell anyone. He refuses to kiss Amy
- she thinks it's because he doesn't like her. In a brief duologue, the play addresses sex, sexuality, body image, peer pressure. It shows teenagers that the stuff they're going through isn't weird or unusual - here are characters going through the same things. That's before we even get on to how so many modern plays are gloriously well written with clever dramatic techniques, a skilful mix of genres, creative and brilliant ways of telling a story and so on.

I bet the vast majority of the hand wringers have never even attempted to read the stuff they're railing against. What kind of example is that setting?

motown3000 Mon 17-Mar-14 23:15:06

I did not Know "Citizenship" and thought with its title, it might be about Racism and Belonging to Ultra Right Wing Groups...

I thought "Hollyoaks" showed Teenagers that.

Seriously though Programs like Sugar rush/ Skins are very helpful for Teenagers who feel a bit different , or have problems they are afraid to share, much in the same way that Grange Hill, Press Gang did for our generation.

The point is, they are away from the Classroom and though I maybe a dinosaur , I believe Schools should be very formal environments and not delve in to Teenage sub culture.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 17-Mar-14 23:45:22

What the Daily Mail prints, and what the reality is are two very different things. We all know that don't we? OP, I support you, and all teachers that are bashed by the Heil.

Not related in the slightest (except in shaming the Daily Mail) so I hope you'll forgive me:

Dear Daily Mail

Should add that the link contains swearing.

Fuck you, Daily Mail.

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