15 Oct 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change

I am not a hippie. I will not descend into the idea of the Earth as 'mother'. I will not personify the poor little creatures that are affected by the effects of climate change. I will not pretend that I look whistfully into the future and imagine a post-apocalyptic dystopia where my decendents scratch a living from the bare Earth and faces turned skywards scream 'why didn't you turn the heating down one fucking degree?'

Becuase I, like all other hairless apes, don't look beyond the temporal horizon that extends one week beyond our faces.

You see the problem with climate change is that it doesn't affect us directly. Not like fixing the toaster. Or terrorism. It is a nebulous idea. Scientific in explanation that seems a million miles away. We nod and agree and recycle before jumping in our cars to drive to heated houses before turning on the 55'' plasma T.V. and watching a four hour episode of 'Strictly Come Dancing', turning on all the lights, chucking the washing in the tumble dryer, leaving the fridge door open, roasting a 56kg whole pig for two, sitting down at a computer with wireless connection to spend 3 hours writing a blog about climate change.

You see the issue of climate change exposes us at our most degraded. It seems so far away so we don't really bother. Oh, we pay lipservice to it but when anything big is done about it we fail.

I'll give you an example. About a year ago the Government suggested that it would be a good idea to monitor the amount of waste that goes into our bins using a microchip. The ultimate goal was no doubt to start to charge people for the amount of waste people threw away.

Did the fine people of this great nation accept such a forward thinking and fair way of trying to reduce the amount of waste mindlessly chucked out?

Did they fuck!

Allusions were drawn from 1984 because it was an attack on the rights of every British person to have their own four acres of landfill without the intrusion of a Big Brother government.

This is from the country with the most CCTV cameras per capita in the world.

I wish that we could change. I wish that the soviet experiment showed that we can move beyond the self interested actions and do something alturistic. Not because of any form of vicarious motivation, nor because of the threat of mass flooding, starvation and death.

But because it is the right thing to do.

10 Oct 2009

Dealing With Prejudice.

One of the hardest things I have to do as a teacher is to deal with prejudice and challenge preconceptions. It sounds like a fairly easy thing to do. Pupil says something untoward, you calmly explain why that isn't acceptable, pupil becomes well adjusted member of society and goes on to challenge predjudicial behaviour at home and within their peer group.


What actually happens is pupil says something unacceptable (in my place of work either mildly racist or homophobic), you are actually disgusted by the comment and erupt into a 45 minute lecture on the rights of man at great volume. You may or may not point out some of the pupil's obvious shortcomings such as lack of personal hygene, questionable parentage or, in extreme cases, their having the mental capcity of the common or garden snail. Once you have calmed down you will have to log the incident somehow and inform the parents.

The next day you will open up your emails and discover that the little scrote's parents have decided that the way you dealt with the incident was unacceptable and they have notified the headteacher of your actions. The first email you write in response is blocked by the school's filtering system as it contains 32 seperate examples of the word 'fuck'.

An hour later the headteacher calls you into their office for a 'chat'. They politely explain that we must remember to treat our pupils with 'diginity and respect' and, as such, refering to them as 'the bastard offspring of Hitler, Pol Pot and Gary the Racist Duck' isn't really acceptable. You want to explain that you didn't say 'duck' and this demonstrates the lack of attention the pupil pays in your lessons but realise that this will only make things worse.

You then come to the shocking self-revelation that the reason the pupil was being a racist twat was because the parents see nothing wrong in it. Indeed, the parents make those comments all the time. There may be some reason for it - perhaps they haven't got any work because Polish workers can do the same job cheaper, perhaps it is fear of the unknown or perhaps it is because they haven't left the village they were born in all their life and still think people with different coloured skin are somehow out to get them and their wife (who doubles up as sister and cousin) agrees.

I don't know the ultimate reason. What I do know is this conflict between my liberal ideals and the swathe of ignorance I see before me is very hard reconcile in a way which befits my supposed responsibilites as a rolemodel. What I find unaccptable they see no problem in. What makes my blood boil they see as funny. This is the point at which my professionalism falls down.

Perhaps I should be less prejudiced against rasicst, homophobic, stuttering idiots.

Perhaps not...