23 March 2008

Only posh kids need apply

I showed this to my Sixth Formers and asked if they would consider going to a revision class like this (assuming they could afford it, which given the quality of their mobile phones, they probably could). Unanimously they said no, because everyone looked like a snob, and dressed funny. I was taken with the fact that
(a) the tutor appears to be Peter Sellars, and
(b) the revision seems to consist of Peter holding up bits of a chemistry set and talking.
Where's the interactive activities? Where, pray tell, are the pads of lined paper out of which students take such an age trying rip the pages neatly?
Anyway, no disrespect to the Hampstead Easter School, but I don't think we're in your target market. Sorry.

Update August 2008: some fab photos from their website:

1 comment:

Anthony Dakin said...

I feel that you have let some prejudices about class and money leak into your 'laboratory', and perhaps into your teaching. Is referring them as 'posh kids' really any better than the reverse (calling poorer children 'tramps' or 'chavs' etc.)? Even if they don't listen as often as they should, 'posh kids' are often taught to recognise how privileged they are by the luck of birth; their teachers are at pains to limit the extent to which arbitrary resentment festers and grows between children who presumably have largely similar interests and hopes. I'd like to think that you opened the debate about Easter schooling with your sixth formers in a responsible and even-handed way, but your willingness to make personal remarks about the people in the HES photographs tempts me to suspect that you were probably sneering and dismissive. I don't imagine you had any fears about the receptiveness of your audience either. Yours is not an especially brave stance.

You say that you mean 'no offence' to HES, but do you want to offend 'posh kids'? I think you hide some pretty aggressive inverted snobbery behind your 'no offence', 'isn't it funny', 'I'm down with my 6th form' tone. The time it must have taken you to produce the page I refer to, and the time devoted in class to a discussion, is evidence enough of a desire to declare your views about money and education. I look forward to hearing them straight, without the irrelevance and dishonesty of the stand-up comedian's approach.

Why am I getting involved? I'll be honest with you. I'm the guy in the photo who you declare looks like Peter Sellars. I suppose I'm a target for that sort of thing if I let my image be used to sell something, but my human instinct kicked in when I read it, and I felt myself to be the victim of a cheap shot. It's the sort of thing I'd expect the kids to say about it; they might even draw graffiti penises on my head, etc. That stuff is funny for pupils, no matter how much money they have, or how it is spent. However, you are a teacher, and rather proud of it, it seems. That responsibility, and the one implicit in broadcasting your thoughts, should have combined to spare my feelings.

Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you'd agree to go some way towards evening things up by sending a photo of yourself, so I can at least satisfy myself that you look a bit funny too. If you're very handsome, or very ugly, then I'll know for sure that either hypocrisy or general bitterness is your thing.