Daily Mail's Hatchet Job On Teachers After MN Thread

(122 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

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


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?

steview Sun 16-Mar-14 07:56:40

One of my proudest possessions is a written apology from the Daily Mail. They wrote a website story about an incident I was witness to. The article was basically wholly inaccurate in every aspect.

I contacted the police officer in charge of investigating the incident and he described the article as a work of fiction and said that the DM had not contacted the police before publishing.

I contacted the owners of the establishment where the incident occurred and they said the article was absolute rubbish and that the DM had not spoken to them about it either.

When faced with this evidence and asked to remove the article the DM didn't even have the courtesy to respond - I escalated it but still no response.

Ultimately took it to the Press Complaints Commission who initially refused to hear the case (after all the PCC was just papers looking after each other) but they relented when I appealed.

The final outcome was the DM removing the article from their records, website etc. and sending me a written apology. The irony was their defence was that they had basically copied the story from an article on the Sun's website!

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 08:58:23

I'd have it hanging in pride of place steview smile

running to the Mail after getting a pasting on MN is, I suspect, the adult equivalent of a pfb running home to tell mummy the teacher told her off for talking too much in class and hoping mummy will go and tell the nasty old teacher to never reprimand pfb ever again.

EvilTwins Sun 16-Mar-14 09:02:39

I commented on that thread too, and also had the email from MNHQ asking if I'd be willing to talk to a journalist about it. I gave it about 30 seconds' thought before realising there was absolutely no point as the DM was not likely to present it in a balanced way. Ridiculous.

Saw the story this morning and felt very angry.
Good response OP.

SanityClause Sun 16-Mar-14 09:36:17

The Daily Mail was always going to side with the mother. Would they ever pass over a chance to pander to the cats-bum-mouthed tutters?

Ironic that they think nothing of presenting 14 yo girls as sex objects in their "paper", yet when it comes to allowing them to be treated as young adults in their understanding of the world and of literature, they are deemed to be too young.

(Probably worded that badly, but hopefully my meaning is clear enough!)

meditrina Sun 16-Mar-14 09:42:50

You're actually quite lucky.

When DM quoted one of my posts, they didn't attempt to get in touch beforehand.

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 09:46:57

I always thought it was a bit of a joke on here when posters referred to the DM culling thru forums looking for stories! Now I know otherwise.

SanityClaus - totally agree, and think you are spot on. For a paper that runs as many stories as it does about the sex lives of consenting adults - often in graphic 50-shades style detail - it is amazing they are getting so wound up over a few swear words.

'cats-bum-mouthed tutters' - love it! smile

SanityClause Sun 16-Mar-14 09:48:14

I've just read the article.

The school gave the parents the option to withdraw their children from the classes - Ms Stockton chose not to.

Instead of acting in a dignified manner, and quietly withdrawing her child from classes, to allow her to study a different text, she has chosen to go first to a public forum, and then, when that didn't get the tutting she wanted, to the Daily Mail, where she knew she would get the desired result.

eddiemairswife Sun 16-Mar-14 09:55:00

The first impression given by the article is that it was teachers at the school swearing at the parent.

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 10:00:05

eddiemairswife - I suspect there will, at the very least, be a lot of swearing about the parent in the staffroom come tomorrow morning smile

Feel very sorry for her daughter at having her education and her teachers dragged into the public eye like this. I would imagine she is going to get quite a lot of flack of her fellow pupils this week.

Which her teachers will do their level best to prevent of course, despite the parents very low opinion of them!

I feel very uncomfortable that the DM can selectively quote a thread - and identify an OP with her apparent consent - when MN has apparently pulled the same thread at poster's request. Where's the fairness in that?

Come on MN, reinstate the thread. Give others a chance to make up their own minds on the issue.

foxinsocks Sun 16-Mar-14 10:00:42

I thought that too when I first read it (that it was teachers at the school)

My dcs are at the school and it's just had an ofsted and got a 'good'.

I also thought it really strange that the ofsted inspection was announced just after the first story about the play was released. Not that I'm into conspiracies mind ;)

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 10:55:06

and god help us - but some of the comments on the article on the DM!

apparently some people cannot understand the fact that the comments made to the mother were not made by teachers in the school, but on MN! Irresponsible reporting and a misleading headline have now got people as far away as Holland thinking the Drama teacher at the school swore at the mother!

or indeed basic word definitions. according to one comment "Censorship would be boycotting the play if it was being performed in a theatre - not wishing your 16 year old to study a play in school which contains lots of profanity is just COMMON SENSE"

no 'Clarah' at the DM censorhsip is trying to prevent others from seeing/reading things you do not approve of. Boycotting a play it is at your local theatre is, um, a boycott. Not wanting your child to study something is your personal choice to opt out of - a choice the mother had. Not wanting anyone else to see/read it is - guess what - censorship!

Not to mention the comment with almost 1000 likes saying that if this is the way teachers behave... blah blah and 'aren't schools inspected'*. Do all these people really not understand the comments made to the woman were made on a public forum and not by teachers in the school? Are they that fucking stupid?

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 10:59:49

"The police should investigate the origins of the cyber abuse"

DM comment

dear god above

DameFanny Sun 16-Mar-14 11:05:09

Well I hope at the very least MNHQ has banned the original poster for misusing this forum so flagrantly

JabberJabberJay Sun 16-Mar-14 11:05:41

I was on the aforementioned thread.

And I have just read the article in the DM.

Totally agree with your posts OP.

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 12:22:04

If you scroll down the article in the DM there are 4 video links at the end. One is of a kitten. The others are a video of a woman stripping to her underwear in a job centre, complete with screen shot of her in her bra; a female jogger running naked through London, complete with screen shot of naken lady; and a story of a man having his 132lb scrotom removed complete with... well you get the idea ;)

A search of the word 'sex' on the DM site brings up over 2,500 hits.
The phrase 'f word' over 3000 results and 'cleavage' over 5,500!

Probably this all helps to explain why they are the most complained about newspaper in the UK according the the PCC's own statistics. Last year there were over 1,200 complaints to the PCC about the Mail, 36% of the total complaints they received. The Mail On Sunday accounts for another 5% of the total. Their closest rival, The Sun, had barely half the number the Mail received.

The Editor of the Mail sits on the committee that dominates the PCC and chairs the Editors Code Committee. The Editor Emeritus of the Mail is one of the 3 directors of the company which owns the PCC.

Funnily enough I can't see them running a story about their incestuous domination of the PCC. They prefer to present themselves as the upholder of 'national values' and defame teachers, rather than publicise their own lack of professional and moral standards.

Blu Sun 16-Mar-14 17:36:54

I see lists and lists of DM readers have added their small minded comments condemning swearing in works of literature, how it is a sign of this that and the other - obviously with no understanding AT ALL that swearing is in a play is not necessarily condoning swearing! And can be used to effectively condemn swearing.

Should the scenes of murder and eyes being put out be removed from school copies of King Lear, perhaps?

And Mrs Stockford, your DM friends and DM writers - do please read Shakespeare's plays again and red pencil all the obscene jokes and language. If you are literate enough to recognise them.

Feenie Sun 16-Mar-14 17:55:33

I had two posters claiming they hadn't even read the thread concerned but agreed with the OP when I posted about this this morning. hmm

tiaramasu Sun 16-Mar-14 18:00:18

What difference does a ban make?
They just reregister with a different email address.

EvilTwins Sun 16-Mar-14 19:02:05

Blu - totally agree with you. I scrolled through the comments and got steadily more angry at the ignorance. All those claiming that we should stick to Shakespeare and Dickens rather than these offensive and/or socialist texts should really take a look at the definition of irony.

Just another opportunity for teacher bashing. I do hope those DM readers who feel the need to be so offensive towards an entire profession are home educators.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Mar-14 19:11:00

Not even a sad-face photo. I was looking forward to the sad-face photo.

adoptmama Sun 16-Mar-14 19:44:59

I particularly like the comment about me - as mis-quoted in the DM - suggesting I had purchased my degree from Twitter smile smile smile

If only my degree, MA, PGCE and BSc had all been that easy to come by.

And the poster who simply wrote 'all teachers are stupid'.

Thankfully they had at least been clever enough to teach said poster to read (admittedly at the roughly age 7 level of the DM) and write.

But yes, it did make me see increasingly red to see the ignorance - and ironically by those who profess themselves to be the enlightened few - and vitriol directed at my fellow professionals. Mrs What-ever-her-name lied to the press and, by doing so, opened up the drama teacher of her daugher's school to hundreds - literally - of nasty, vile comments. Hugely ironic considering she complains she was the victim of a 'torrent of abuse' by posters on here.

I was left with tears in my eyes - genuinely - when a poster on that now infamous - and still deleted - MN thread stated she felt passionate teachers like myself and my colleagues were heroes and thanked us for what we had done for her kids. People like her - and their lovely kids - make the job worthwhile. People like Mrs Thingy make it hell and drive hundreds of teachers - good teachers, talented teachers - from the profession. I remember writing what I considered to be a fairly witty poem about pearl clutchers and being nominated by several other posters to replace Gove as Ed Sec. on that thread smile My moment of fame snatched away because Mrs. Stuckup decided to tell MN she wanted the thread removed as she feared it made her daughter and the school identifiable. And before she did that she copied the entire thread so she could run with it to the DM and mislead and lie to try to score points over an innocent teacher whose only 'crime' has been to try to add an interesting piece of literature to the curriculum.

I can't begin to imagine the stress all this has brought to the Drama teacher at the school. This isn't a joke to her. It's her career. She has done nothing to deserve being vilified in the national press because one woman got her knickers in a twist over some swearing in a play and, equally, some swearing on a public forum. There's almost more bloody swearing in the Oscar winning King's Speech for crying out loud.

Silly, vile woman. I suspect if she hung around the Mail's offices long enough she'd here some pretty ripe language from the hypocritcal people who work there.

I hope one day Mrs Whatever-her-bloody-name-is wakes up and realises what an unconscionable thing it is she did to her daughter's drama teacher. A teacher who will remain totally professional, despite her personal feelings, in educating this ladies daugher. Who will continue to support, advise, advocate for and assist this ladies daughter without prejudice and without malice.

I hope one day she also finds the grace to admit the enormous wrong she did to her daughter's teacher and apologises.

fourcorneredcircle Sun 16-Mar-14 19:54:58

Hear, hear. adoptmama

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:
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.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 17-Mar-14 23:48:36

Ooooooops blush

Wrong link. Copy fail. It's here:

Fuck you, Daily Mail

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 17-Mar-14 23:51:32

The song, btw, was in response to this shoddy article. DM is shameful in so many ways.

deakymom Tue 18-Mar-14 00:15:44

im sorry but this attitude is making me rethink my daughters wish to study drama at GCSE level. yes she is highly talented but really i want my daughter to learn potty mouth it might be "gritty and realistic" to some but not all. i can write better with less swear words something that might have some basis of real life as it is, not the car crash everyone thinks it should be.

and i thought text speak essays were bad

adoptmama Tue 18-Mar-14 04:59:56

I can't think of a better place than the classroom for these types of issues to be explored. A classroom provides a safe, structured place to facilitate discussions. Teenagers can explore issues which may be concerning them without having to 'out' themselves over the issues. They can explore issues related to sex, violence, sexuality, identity, relationships, abuse etc in a safe and respectful environment where the teacher can keep an eye of the way things are going and guide the discussion. As well as doing all the things a good drama teacher will do in enabling discussions on language, its impact, context etc. It's not as if they are just sitting around and, like that famous scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral (which I bet everyone who has watched has laughed at) repeating 'fuck, fuck, fuck' to themselves and their peers!

Teenagers will be discussing these things anyway and better, I think, that they do so in a safe and open way under guidance, than 'at the back of the bike sheds'. In my time teaching I - and therefore the children in the schools I have worked in - have dealt with child suicide, parental suicide, teen drug addiction, parental drug addiction, alcoholism - teens and parents - murder (of teen/murder of parents/murder by parent), gang warfare, accidental death, death from illness, racism, racial and gender identity, self harm, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, rape, incest and child sexual abuse and criminal offending. I have listened to chilldren - children!! - tell me they have been beaten, raped, starved, prostituted, become addicted, got pregnant, had abortions, and tried to kill themselves. I have watched parents break down as they tell me their child is facing death and they don't know how to tell their siblings. All genuine incidents in mainstream comprehensive schools and in 'normal' areas. After more than 20 years of teaching I can tell you the name of every single one of these children who was lost. We have dealt with these issues because, very tragically, this is the world we inhabit. Children do not live in a little bubble where these things don't happen and - honestly - the least significant part of any of it has been whether anyone expressed their feelings with 'bad' language. It's not 'bad' - it's expressive and emotive and the fact it is 'extreme' enables us to convey the fact our emotions are extreme and stressful.

These things happen to children in the real world and drama needs to deal with it a real way. In the real world people swear. I don't think it is inappropriate 'gritty realism' to give pretty mature 14-16 year olds material like the play Mogadishu (passed by the exam boards) to read and discuss under supervision and with support and guidance. Providing them with material where everyone reacts in a way teens are astute enough to see is fake will make them react and discuss and think about the issues in a very different way.

SamandCat Tue 18-Mar-14 07:06:58

Well I am with the DM on this one.
Totally unsuitable and unnecessary for 14 yr olds to be studying this

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 07:11:05

Have you read it Sam?

HelpfulChap Tue 18-Mar-14 07:34:27

It is not just Mumsnet that treats the Mail with the distain it so richly deserves, pretty much every football forum on the internet is full of vitriol for the rag.

On the positve impact teachers can have on a child - the Ian Wright documentary was a case in point and extremely emotional. If any teachers here need to have some reassurance regarding their importance they should try and watch it.

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 07:46:44

Anyone who thinks that drama teachers are forcing children to study needlessly mature texts should have a look at the fabulous NT connections programme. The National Theatre has been running for a number of years. Each year, a number of highly respected playwrights create new plays specifically for young people. Hundreds of schools across the country get involved, working with the playwrights and with young people in their schools to create performances of the plays. They are diverse, engaging, original and challenging, and expose teenagers to new, quality writing. This term, with my Yr 10 groups, I have used several past Connections plays. All have been publicly performed by schools across the country, and I bet the audiences were full of proud parents. Almost all have swearing, but I don't consider it to be gratuitous or inappropriate, and clearly neither do the people who run NT Connections or the hundreds of schools who get involved each year.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 07:55:40

I completely agree that it is unfair that Geraldine Stockford was able to have the thread deleted by MNHQ and then quote and edit out of context in The Daily Mail. And that if adoptamama and other MN-ers are to be held up for scrutiny and to account for what they sad, then so should GD for what she said about The Teddington School, Richmond, and other things.

And the full argument and context for her and the DMs claims should be published.

MNHQ, what is your take on this?

tiaramasu Tue 18-Mar-14 08:46:49

I dont think that mumsnet are going to come out against the Daily Mail!

tiaramasu Tue 18-Mar-14 08:48:54

Political lines will then definitely have been drawn, since Justine's husband used to work for the left wing Guardian!
It would also put his current job at Newsnight under a lot more scrutiny.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 09:16:52

EvilTwins - especially Enda Walsh's excellent play about the chat rooms wink

deakymom - seriously, if your dd is talented her talent will involve a very clear ability to imaginatively explore life from a pov totally different from her own. Different. This is very different from 'picking up bad habits' as you may do in the school playground, and IMO drama students, because of this ability, develop very mature understandings of complex arguments and are also equipped, through drama with the ability to articulate and express their views. Your dd is even more likely to stay strong in her own values by exploring the opposite in theatre, IMO.

adoptomama and others - is there a line you would draw in selecting texts? I would be very happy about Mogadishu because the subject and content is totally age appropriate and essentially relevant, and think 14+ years are able to handle the subject matter AND understand that the swearing etc is on context and about authentic characterisation, and is not, primarily, a 'How To Swear' manual.

However there was discussion on the original thread about Blasted, and personally this is not a text I would select for U16s, or use in school, because I don't think 14-16 yos are mature or experienced enough to really understand the material. I also think there is a potential safeguarding issue in the material - fictional or not, it can be very exposing for a child survivor of extreme abuse to be asked to deal with a text like that in a public forum.

At a school near us Yr7s in a first English lesson were asked to make a presentation to the class on 'The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To me' or 'My Scars'.

I have l knowledge of kids in similar schools who are here because they saw their parents raped and butchered, or were themselves the victim of atrocities. The chances are that they would sit quietly and not speak...possibly for the next half term's lessons. In my mind that is an ethical and safeguarding issue.

But swearing in a text about bullying? Most teens are vocal about things they disapprove of and a few would be calling 'naaarsty!' at the language.

And believe it or not most teachers actually discuss things like swearing in a text - why it is there, context, character etc, probably in the context of it not being a good routine tactic in RL. Most lovers of literature and language (incl teachers!) deplore the lazy use of banal swearing. Do GS and the DM not realise this?

This is what adoptamama and other MN-ers are on about: education.

I think part of the problem is that in these days of education being synonymous with testing, people assume that any material in education is 'How to do it' rather than 'how to learn to think about things'. It was the same with Clause 28 - it was assumed that any discussion of fictional gay characters must be training in 'how to commit a homosexual act', rather than 'let's explore the world form many different viewpoints and see what we might learn from that'.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 09:18:17

tiramisu: re-instating the original thread in the interests of properly discussing what was in the DM and on the radio is hardly 'coming out against the DM'.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 09:23:33

In fact I see form another thread about this, tiaramasu, that you did not actually see the original thread, so perhaps you would find re-instatement illuminating.

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:36:11

I saw the original thread. I think op felt rather humiliated as the vast majority of mumsnetters - teachers and parents - seemed happy to trust the judgement of their children's teachers on these issues.

The bad language really is the least of it - as long as teacher is encouraging the children to think critically about the language used - does it enhance or detract, is there integrity in its use? It's just another element to the play along with its plot, structure, character, dialogue.

maillotjaune Tue 18-Mar-14 13:48:36

To the pp who suggested Hollyoaks as a better way for teens to see relevant current issues dealt with - you do realise Hollyoaks is crap right?

I haven't read Mogadishu or Citizenship but would have more faith in an acclaimed play that teachers thought would be worthy of study than a teen TV soap.

At a similar age practically everyone in my school was busy reading Go Ask Alice (think that's the right title) which, although not dripping in swear words, set out in graphic detail the consequences of meddling in drugs including sexual abuse and overdoses. The problem of just getting it out of the school library was that there was no adult led discussion of the issues and I remember feeling disturbed by some of it but unable to ask my parents.

As a result I am glad to read my children (who aren't quite at this age yet) are more likely to have an opportunity to discuss topics like racism and drugs in literature or drama lessons alongside Romeo and Juliet.

PiqueABoo Tue 18-Mar-14 14:46:37

Blu "Do enlighten us into the complexities, from your more mature pov"

You folk know it all, are not disposed to listen and of course enlightenment comes from within.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 15:56:50

Wherever enlightenment comes from (within and debate and discussion with others) I doubt very much it comes from people who arrive on a thread, offer nothing but an insult, and disappear without further comment.

Shame, really.

I asked a question below, and I really would like to know from the people who see no problem with Mogadishu whether there is material they would not use with 14-15 year olds, and why.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Mar-14 16:40:33


tiaramasu is one of our regular trolls, we're afraid. We've banned them now (again).

Thanks also for the point about the original thread being deleted - we do see there's an unfairness here. The original reason for deletion, from memory, was that the OP had given a lot of detail that could lead to her daughter being identified - but then she does rather seem to have blown that argument by naming her daughter in the Daily Mail. So we will dig out the thread and see if we can reinstate it. If we do, we'll link to it here.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Mar-14 16:50:11

Hello again - we've reinstated the thread now: you can see it here.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 16:51:56

Thanks Rowan.

I did wonder about tiaramasu.

Threads connected with newspaper reports are bound to attract unhelpful visitors.

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 17:11:25

Blu I've nearly finished a second degree in eng lit and psych. I hope to become an English teacher. I really, really want to do it. So I am not a teacher. But:

I think selecting texts for 14/15 year olds should be based on the quality of the literature rather than shock value/therapeutic value.

I think children should be educated about the literary canon - context of material, themes and devices used by author. I think most teachers are capable of exercising judgement about appropriate titles.

That said Sunset Song a staple of Scottish literature starts with a double infanticide and suicide of mother, father trying to rape his daughter, daughter raped by husband, extra marital sex and is one of most moving books I have ever read.

So I suppose you would not choose a work that had gratuitous content, you would be mindful that children do not choose thus, they have to read it.

maillotjaune Tue 18-Mar-14 17:15:41

Thanks for reinstating it Rowan was very interesting to read.

And thanks for adoptmama and the other teachers who made an excellent case against censorship. I'm not surprised that this wasn't what came across in the Fail article but it's good to see the proof of how one-sided it was.

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Tue 18-Mar-14 17:33:46

Regarding choosing texts that are "gratuitous" - is that not part of teaching pupils the context? Sarah Kane's use of language, extreme physical and sexual violence in 'Blasted' has been described by some as 'gratuitous' - it's been described by others as a metaphor for the Bosnian war (which she herself said she was inspired to write 'Blasted' by the news reports about it that she saw). Some could say '4.48 Psychosis' is gratuitous in its use of swearing and the extremely grim, gritty content - but others would argue it's a very powerful portrayal of someone in the grip of a psychiatric disorder (having recently directed a performance of this, I'd obviously say the latter grin )

And shock value is one of the main reasons for In-Yer-Face theatre, Theatre of Cruelty etc. We can't just teach them the 'nice' bits of theatre, ooh look at the musicals, let's study Stanislavsky. IME we much preferred learning about Artaud and Grotowsky and similar practitioners than Stanislavsky and Brecht.

The point is, if we hide our little dumplings away from the tough stuff in theatre, you may as well hide them away from the tough stuff in life too, and by the time they get to adulthood, they'll be in for a shock. By all means, hide your children away from the fact that there are nasty people in the world, but don't expect teachers to do it, and don't expect the theatre to do it either. If people want their children to learn about theatre, they should be prepared for their children to learn about all aspects of theatre - not just The Sound of Music and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Feenie Tue 18-Mar-14 17:46:17

tiaramasu Sun 16-Mar-14 18:00:18
What difference does a ban make?
They just reregister with a different email address.

They? hmm hmm

motown3000 Tue 18-Mar-14 18:43:59

( Don't Ban me Please) What has Tiaramasu done wrong ?..

I have just read the "Thread" that led up to the Daily Mail Article , talk about a "Storm in A Tea Cup" .

Being a Teacher does not Mean you "Cant Swear" if you feel like it, (Probably in Jest looking at the way it was posted).

However, Reading the Post , I don't Know what the Original Poster did wrong ( Apart from Contacting the Mail) by expressing an opinion shared by a High Percentage of Parents , and why she was " Ridiculed" for having a "Mary Whitehouse" Attitude...

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 18:46:31

The original poster on the thread wanted others to sign a petition. When others said they wouldn't be doing that, it got silly.

Delphiniumsblue Tue 18-Mar-14 18:52:48

I don't think that DM ever let facts get in the way of a good story,which is why I never read it.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 19:00:17

All material in school is introduced in an age-appropriate progression, though.

I'm not talking about swearing or even exposure to nasty happenings - they are well seasoned in stories with nasty happenings by about Yr 4!
I don't think my 12 year old would 'get' Blasted, and my preference as a parent would be that he learns a little more about what sex ought to be and can be before he is steeped in very adult material about violent sexual abuse.

Teachers, of course, do make these choices in an informed and discerning way, though, and my DS's school are studying A Midsummer Night's Dream, not Blasted.

clam Tue 18-Mar-14 19:06:28

If tiaramisu is a troll who's been banned, how come she's posting on the MalaysiaAirline threads?

Feenie Tue 18-Mar-14 19:10:49

It is definitely tiaramisu, clam? Cos this one was tiaramAsu.

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Tue 18-Mar-14 19:14:34

Blu But I'm not saying a 12 year old should be studying 'Blasted'. At 16, yes. And I don't see the problem with plays like Mogadishu, Chatroom, Citizenship etc for 14 year olds.

But my point really was that you could argue that any play's use of anything is 'gratuitous', and someone else will rightfully argue back that they are using it to make a point about something. Just because one person considers it gratuitous is no reason to strike it off the syllabus altogether.

RustyBear Tue 18-Mar-14 19:19:09

tiaramasu's last post was just before noon today, presumably she was banned after that...

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 19:28:10

mowtown: In the original thread the vast majority of posts in responses to the OP are simply and calmly putting another pov and suggesting another perspective. Some people are suggesting she talk to the school rather than start a petition against a play many other parents regard as an admirable piece of writing.

The OP also questioned the professionalism and subject knowledge and experience of teachers and called for them to be regulated in the material they use. Adoptamama understandably reacted to that.

The OP did noting wrong in putting forward her pov - but posters questioned the ethics of making her dd and school identifiable, used some swearing in response to being told not to (hardly a first on MN), and THEN the OP complained of disrespect, told MN she was worried about making herself so identifiable and got the thread pulled.

Then she went to the DM and raised a storm about teachers on MN using bad language - when all the journos who have subsequently taken up her cause haven't even been able to see the whole thread.

Banning things and calling for censorship is a serious matter. I would, in time honoured fashion, defend to the death a society in which GS can air her views about suitable language in schools. She has an absolute right to give her opinion.

To air that opinion and vilify those who have disagreed with her, having caused their opinions to be deleted ....shocking.

A quick google tells me that her cause has now been championed by a horrendous white supremacist site, Daily St*rmer. Well done GS!

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:34:16

Moomin perhaps my attitude is a little more conservative.

I haven't read Blasted so can't comment. But I would think very carefully about the themes of the literature I presented to a class.

I don't like censorship but I think some books are best explored in a child's own time, at their pace.

That doesn't mean academic Eng Lit should avoid challenging topics, but the point of it is surely to learn to critically evaluate texts and learn to form a coherent argument.


EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 19:36:08

Ubik - out of interest, which plays do you think are appropriate for GCSE groups?

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:36:29

you could argue that any play's use of anything is 'gratuitous

Well you could. But that would be a bit silly, wouldn't it.

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:37:21

I'm not a teacher. Why do you ask?

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 19:38:51

I ask because you're able to say what shouldn't be taught, so I was interested in what you think would be appropriate.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 19:48:36

Moomin - I haven't used the word 'gratuitous', I think I am interested in the age appropriateness of very powerful and not gratuitous material. Mostly anything which is actually gratuitous (even extended descriptions of landscape) undermines the quality of the work, anyway.

Nor would I bar 14 year olds from Mogadishu, Chatroom, etc.

Not sure I would do Blasted with 16 yos in school, tbh. Though I would take a 16y I knew to be capable of appreciating it to the theatre to see it.

There are plenty of threads on MN that carry warnings in the title, and requests that material in threads be flagged up if it of a certain nature, because we understand that certain material can be triggering. As you say, kids I schools are 'captive'. If you arrived as an unaccompanied minor as a refugee from Bosnia and saw your mother raped and your brother having his penis hacked off you might not cope with sitting in a classroom going over a text like Blasted for the whole of the Spring term. Having a Duty of care, schools do have things to take into consideration in addition to literary quality.

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:51:51

It would be a very long post Eviltwins confused

The point I am making is that you have to take into consideration the themes of certain material when presenting it to a class - surely all teachers do this.

They don't just rock up to their GCSE class and go:"Right kids, here's Trainspotting, let's go straight to the bit where the junkie fucks his 8 months pregnant sister in law doggystyle in the bog."

But you might choose Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep because the themes are fascinating and asks questions about the experience of being human in a technological world.

Sorry have to go to sleep as nightshift beckons.

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Tue 18-Mar-14 19:53:56

But part of learning about these plays and pieces of literature is in the context.

If we say some texts are best discovered at the pupil's own pace, then there's a lot of very important texts that will never be discovered, because unless they have a real passion for the subject, they may never go out of their way to read them - and quite often, it's reading the more challenging, emotive texts that help them to develop a love and a passion for the subject in the first place! If my drama teacher had only let us read Shakespeare and Ayckbourn, I'd never have enjoyed it the way I have since discovering Sarah Kane and similar writers. And in turn, the ones who just wrote what was 'accepted' at the time - the well-made play etc - haven't inspired me to write for theatre at all. It's the ones who pushed the boundaries who have - I'm sure that at the time, they never would've taught the plays of the Angry Young Men, and yet now 'Look Back In Anger' is considered one of Britain's biggest theatrical achievements. Same goes for playwrights like Caryl Churchill and Shelagh Delaney; at their respective times they were considered a) revolutionary and b) shocking, and yet I'd say they're crucial for pupils of all ages studying drama to understand the evolution of theatre, and the censorship laws.

I'm not suggesting 12 year olds be forced to read 'Blasted' or act out scenes from 'Saved'; but an awareness that these sort of plays exist and the attitudes towards them will help them develop an understanding of theatre. Once they reach 14, some of the 'tamer' ones - in their themes, rather than their language, because I find it quite laughable that the OP of the original thread is bosom-hoiking over 14 year olds being exposed to swearing (as if they never hear it anywhere else!) - can be introduced. By 16 I don't think any play should be considered off-limits.

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 19:57:00

Not sure what point you're making, ubik. I may have misunderstood earlier - I thought your "conservative" approach (as you call it) meant you were against the texts we were discussing on this thread. We're not talking about English Lit GCSE, btw, but Drama. The two subjects are taught in very different ways.

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Tue 18-Mar-14 20:00:21

Blu but surely the school's duty of care to that pupil would dictate that they excuse them from that class if they wish to be excused, rather than preventing a whole class from learning about it?

I think my point about nothing being off-limits after 16 is because while some schools still force pupils to do GCSE drama, A Level Drama is an option, and those who want to take it would (I'd hope!) be prepared and aware of the fact that sometimes theatre deals with the less-pleasant side of life - again, why I think maybe gently introducing some of these aspects at 14 isn't a terrible idea - and they need to be prepared to be exposed to texts designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable. I see what you mean in that in school, pre-GCSE years, they have little choice, so going into graphic detail before then probably isn't wise, but by 14 the majority of students in a drama class have chosen that class.

We studied Artaud at A Level, so of course we were exposed to texts and performances that were designed to make us feel uncomfortable and exposed.

At university level, the difference between students who've just studied Brecht and Stanislavsky, and the students who've studied Brecht, Stanislavsky, Berkoff, Grotowski, Artaud etc becomes quite noticable.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 20:02:42

I think it is really important that young people deal with material that challenges their moral, political and philosophical views - Saved - great stuff! A Taste of Honey - well, now it wouldn't challenge them as the controversial material is now our basic understanding of diversity, but it's good for them to understand the context and how freedoms have progressed, why and how.

Reading Ulysees as a fifth former ignited my grow-up literary interest.

Ubik- the Wikipaedia synopsis of Blasted is quite good in that it lays bare the bones of the morality in the piece...but in performance (I saw the revival at the Lyric) it is ...hard to take. Like the fact that she has had sex to pay for a sausage - she came in semi-naked bleeding rectally and vaginally...

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 20:04:17

Moomin: Yes, I think the post-16 / A level /optional point is important.

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 20:07:29

When I said conservative I was responding to someone's description of Blasted. I haven't read it. I haven't read Mogadishu either. So I'm not "against" them, I don't think swearing is a good reason not to study a text...but there are many other reasons why it may not be appropriate.

i think asking some children to swear in a drama class may cause some discomfort. I wouldn't have enjoyed it at all.

pointythings Tue 18-Mar-14 20:09:29

I would far rather my DD was presented with this sort of modern drama by a qualified teacher able to put it into context and dig deeper into meaning than that she ended up picking up stuff in a library or online without knowing what she was getting into.

Also, times change. I'd be willing to bet that when Chaucer wrote his stuff there were people saying 'Oh, you can't read that filth, it's got swearing and sex stuff in it, won't someone think of the children' - yet now it's more or less part of the curriculum.

Actually, Lady Chatterley's Lover wasn't long ago at all. (Not that I think it's great literature, far from it...)

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 20:11:56

But I wouldn't have chosen drama grin the drama lot would have loved all the swearing.

Blasted sounds...um..challenging.

I took my 12 year old to see a play with quite a lot of swearing in it last week - he told me that after you've started secondary school (& he's at a grammar) swearing is not at all shocking.

He's also been involved in a play dealing (in a very non intense way) with issues around homosexuality - I've been very interested to see how that's made him think hard about the issues concerned. He can have a very sensible & mature discussion about homophobia for example.

He wants to do drama for GCSE & I very much hope the chosen texts challenge him.

I saw the original thread & the DM article & thought the same about the mail making it sound as if teachers at the school had been swearing at the idiot parent. Ridiculous 'paper'

Ubik1 Tue 18-Mar-14 20:15:33

There's a wonderful scene in Sunset Song where the new minister preaches a rather racy sermon from Song of Solomon and the whole village is practically drooling by the end. grin

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 20:17:29

Pointy - good point, in that schools are exactly where young people should be discovering boundary-pushing stuff.

I was in an INSET session once when a visiting Forum Theatre co came from Belgium and demonstrated drama exercises they recommended for schools. One involved getting all the students to smell each others' necks. The blindfolding them and getting them to find and identify people by smell. Would I do that in a class of co-ed 14 year olds? probably not.... (I don't think any teachers did)

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 20:18:56

My drama lot are unfazed by it. There is swearing in three of the plays we've used for the project they're doing at the moment. They now have the choice of developing a scene from one of them or devising their own piece which is inspired or influenced by what they've done. There is a mixture. All those doing devised pieces though have sought permission befure using any swearing in their own work. They understand that swearing in devised work is only acceptable if A) it's appropriate for the characters and the situation (context is everything) and B) the target audience is appropriate. They're pretty mature for yr 10 and I trust them to make appropriate decisions. If their work does begin to get inappropriate, I help them find an alternative.

adoptmama Tue 18-Mar-14 20:34:47

Ubik1 - we did Sunset Song at school at around about age 14. Funny enough I wasn't shocked by it at all. Probably because i had an amazing Engish teacher who was so passionate about the book and had such a knack for facilitating discussions and creating a safe environment for them to take place.

I was far more shocked by Zammo McGuire's descent into drug addiction on Grange Hill - I remember being very upset by it (tween crush etc) and because my mother so heartedly disapproved of GH (and almost banned us from watching the overdose episode) I couldn't discuss it with her. It's one of the reasons i think it is so important we allow and encourage schools to deal with these topics and give children environments where their compassion, curiosities and fears can be aired.

And thanks MNHQ for reinstating the thread. I definitely appreciate it, if for no other reason than I can go back and re-read my 'poem' ;)

And actually, I swore a lot less than I thought I had! I've sworn more at a tin of tuna in all honesty.

Blu Tue 18-Mar-14 21:02:22

The press - who should surely care about the issue of free speech with a passion - have bought this hook, line and sinker.

Paper after paper, including those that ought to do better, like the Independent and the Telegraph, have reproduced GS's press release and not one has noted that they are lamenting that a woman has been 'shouted down' whereas she actually had dissenting views DELETED! The independent claims that "By far the most shocking aspect of this whole matter is the lazily abusive language of the teachers who took Mrs Stockford aggressively to task on Mumsnet" without having been able to check - because of deletion - that the most swearing was actually a pastiche of a Pink Floyd song. Who is lazy here, Susan Elkin?

Shocking display by the Press.

motown3000 Tue 18-Mar-14 21:16:00

I think the Daily Mail are setting teachers up , for a backlash from the "Strikes"...

I think you are going to see stories about teachers everyday up to the Strikes. They have not picked this story up from the Manchester Evening News tonight yet ,"But They will"


Teacher Held Husbands Drugs Money

adoptmama Tue 18-Mar-14 21:31:54

Perhaps some of the said jouros might find their way to the original thread now MNHQ have reinstated it.

FYI lazy journos, here it is


now perhaps they will be able to realise that the 'most shocking aspect' of the whole affair is the fact that the Moral Mummy was a tad circumspect in her version of events. How ironic the person running to the press complaining about the nasty, abusive teachers created a shit storm of abuse for her DDs totally innocent drama teacher (would love to see their next parents-teachers meeting......)

Things I really dislike:
- people who believe an individuals morality is directly proportionate to their wealth
- people who believe an individuals morality is directly proportionate to their level of education
- people who believe that those who swear are less moral, intelligent, valued, educated or honest that people who don't swear
- people who think swearing is far, far more immoral than hypocrisy, lying, bigotry, bullying, deceit and prejudice
- people who think 'upholding moral standards' is about making everyone think what they think. I hate groupthink.
- the lazy application of collective responsibility

My dear old dad is a DM reader. He obviously doesn't know I am now the nations number 1 example of a Bad Teacher. I must make sure I ask him next time we talk what he thinks of it all smile Fortunately he's been known to swear himself from time to time. Hopefully he won't disown me smile He will, however, take the opportunity to remind me this would never have happened in Maggie's time.....

And it wasn't 'lazily abusive' - I actually put quite a lot of thought into whether or not to swear since I don't normally on the forum. It was swearing-with-purpose not 'lazy' swearing.

Those who burn books.....

SamandCat Tue 18-Mar-14 21:53:27

Films and video games are given classification on the basis of bad language.Why is it different with literature?

pointythings Tue 18-Mar-14 22:04:02

I thought you swore beautifully AdoptMama, creatively and purposely on the other thread and I'm glad it's back. I hope my DDs have teachers like you in secondary.

SamandCat films and video games are a little different because they place images directly into the brain. There's also the fact that these classifications are widely ignored at home.

With books it's much more difficult. Going back to King Lear - someone has their eyes gouged out on stage. Pretty strong stuff. What rating shall we give it on the basis of that and everything else that happens in the play? 15? 18? But it's Shakespeare, and part of our heritage. So should we not teach it in secondary?

And if we should, why is eye-gouging less bad than swearing? Should we really have a double standard by which 'heritage literature' = anything goes but by which modern literature is subject to censorship?

You see the problem with classifying literature? Not straightforward at all. They tried it with Lady Chatterley, as I've mentioned elsewhere, and it didn't work.

EvilTwins Tue 18-Mar-14 22:39:06

Until the 1960s, all plays had to be passed as appropriate for performance by The Lord Chamberlain. Are you advocating a return to that, SamAndCat?

SamandCat Wed 19-Mar-14 12:04:13

Yes I think schools should act responsibly in choosing books they read in class, in the same way as they would censor DVDs with regards not only to strong language but also violence, sexual content and scariness in the same way a film would be.These children are under 15 so would only be allowed to watch a 12a film at school
Ina public library (ours anyway) achildren are not allowed to borrow teen books and teens are not allowed to borrow adult books

adoptmama Wed 19-Mar-14 12:26:18

Schools do act responsibly. Just because one parent objects does not mean the school did not act responsibly in opting to use a text which is exam board approved and used in many schools. The objection of one individual is not proof the school did something wrong.

There is no direct correlation between one individual's moral outrage and the suitability of the material chosen for study.

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Wed 19-Mar-14 12:43:07

Well said adoptmama

I'm guessing the parent involved would object to a tin of baked beans if she thought it'd get her face in the paper.

SamandCat Wed 19-Mar-14 13:04:53

well I am not familiar with the play so i can't really comment, but in general GCSE students will be older than 14.

RustyBear Wed 19-Mar-14 13:08:21

How does your library define 'adult' books SamandCat?

MoominIsWaitingToMeetHerMiniMe Wed 19-Mar-14 13:22:17

SamandCat My brother is starting GCSEs in September, he's 14.

SamandCat Wed 19-Mar-14 13:22:39

Ha ha Good question! Those in the adult section is the glib answer, but I have no idea ho they classify them.

RustyBear Wed 19-Mar-14 13:51:41

Glad that wasn't the rule when I was a child - I started reading Agatha Christie at 10. I was a librarian BC and most of the libraries I worked in would lend adult books to children at the library staff's discretion if they were alone or with an accompanying adult's permission. They would of course charge fines at adult rates, not children's if they were late back! One library had a section on the membership form that a parent could sign to allow a child under 18 to take out adult books and the child's ticket was marked.

RustyBear Wed 19-Mar-14 13:55:34

Actually, I remember when I was working at Morden library we never catalogued paperbacks individually, so overdues used to just say 'Adult paperback' or 'Junior paperback' - I once had to reassure an elderly lady who had an 'Adult paperback' overdue notice and was most affronted that we thought she would read 'that kind' of book!

I used to borrow adult books as a teen, and teen books as a pre-teen. Was never questioned about it.

At ds2's school GCSE courses now start in year 9.

pointythings Wed 19-Mar-14 18:06:18

In our library children and teenagers can borrow whatever they like. And quite right too.

I supervise what my children read, I guide, I don't censor. That is my job as a parent. I will never expect a school or a public library to do it for me.

adoptmama Wed 19-Mar-14 18:25:18

totally agree pointythings As an 11/12 year old I loved reading Sven Hassel's WWII novels and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise series. I used to borrow my grandfather's to start with and once I had read them all I borrowed others from the library. Neither author was writing books for children - but then J K Rowling wasn't writing books for adults! But they were all writing books I agreed and that sparked new interests in me.

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