they treat the kids like idiots

I was talking to an old friend of mine from school last night. Rory went to the same school as I did, Hebden green, and coincidentally is now going to south Cheshire college, just as I did, where he is about to embark on a foundation degree. Anyway, it would seem I’m not alone in my criticism of Hebden green: Rory is also highly critical of the standard of teaching there. He drew my attention to * the syllabus for business studies in the post-16 department. In our opinion, a child of 9 could do this! I mean, it’s meant for 17 year olds – at an age when most people have the skills sufficient for, say, assessing the role of the Tsarina on the February 1917 Russian revolution, and other such complex, interesting things, kids in special schools are being asked ‘what is a business’. If this wasn’t bad enough, this is virtually the only subject taught: other time is spent faffing and drinking coffee, if memory serves.

Its just ridiculous! Utterly ridiculous!

*the link is now missing


You may have noticed – in fact, I’m sure everyone will have – that it has been ten years since the death of the princess of Wales, and that the press are commemorating this fact fervently. I was watching breakfast TV earlier today, and they were talking about it. While I see no point whatsoever in this, as I feel that it would be best to let her lie, what appalled me is the fact that the guests they had on to discuss the issue were two tabloid editors. It is certainly true that Dianna manipulated the press to suit her own ends, but it is also true that had it not been for the press’s constant harassment of her, their almost bestial, inane hunger for every bit of gossip and every photo of her, she would still be alive today. This also reflects badly on the public who bought such tabloids – we too had a hand in her death, yet what sickens me is the editors who now speak as though they are not guilty, trying to feed us the line that the driver was drunk and that was the soul cause of the accident. At the same time they act as ringleaders of grief, champions of Dianna; when she was alive, the tabloids treated her despicably. They’re hypocrites, each and every one of them. The press manipulated Dianna, and they’re trying to manipulate us.

rebound therapy

Perhaps I am once again being a luddite in attacking something which I haven’t properly researched, but this afternoon I came across the concept of ‘rebound therapy’. This is a ‘lesson’ in special schools, wherein kids get to go on a trampoline. Now, there appears to be some research to suggest that this may be beneficial for muscle tone in kids with cp, but it strikes me as a huge waste of time, quite literally as one Ofstead report says ‘a considerable amount of time is absorbed as pupils have to travel between school sites to use the swimming pool, Rebound Therapy and some other specialist facilities.’ I have two questions, 1. How does bouncing on a trampoline help kids in the long run? Trampolines are fun, but I fail to see how it helps kids in the long term, especially when you have to sacrifice so much teaching time for it. 2. wouldn’t it be better to do such things out of school time, such as at the weekends, if it is so beneficial. This is another example of the misguided medical model philosophy that giving a child things like physio is more important than educating him. To me, this is to squander a child’s future to an almost criminal extent. What good is the ability to walk if it would mean sacrificing the ability to read or count? Focussing on education rather than physio is better in the long term, as physical issues can be overcome mechanically, with things like chairs and vocas, whereas a poor education is a real disability. I personally think trampolines are most fun when they’re at a friends house, visited on a break from uni, bounced upon at dusk between swigs of beer.


heaven (almost)

We have just got in from my meeting at A.S, who organise and fund my learning support at uni. It was, I think, quite a productive meeting, certainly pretty straightforward.’ I found out I’m entitled to money for books, which as a bibliophile is brilliant. Alan sent me a list of books a short while ago, which I need to get. I also want to get hold of some of mulvey’s work – I had a look for a copy online, but no such luck.

Speaking of books, we had lunch in Blackwell’s earlier. Why didn’t anyone tell me of this place? Books and food! How cool. Although they didn’t have any of mulvey’s work, they did sell some good quiche and not bad coffee. I reckon if they did one more thing, Blackwell’s would be heaven: if Blackwell’s sold real ale, you’d never get me out of there!


Something unusual has come to my attention. Last week, I was channel hopping about 4pm. I flipped over to CBBC, and found something rather cool. Desperados, a programme about a kids wheelchair basketball team, came onto the screen. It seems to be a great piece of disability representation, and most of the actors are themselves disabled. At last ‘we’ are being portrayed accurately. Why is it that kids TV is always ahead of television meant for adults in such matters?

post batchelor disrder is good

We just got back from London, where we were visiting my yaiya. You know, the house in haycroft gardens is, as it always has been, a kind of base of operations for the whole family. We’re quite a far-flung group, now spread more than ever, but my brothers, cousins, aunts and parents know we are always welcome there. Chris also came down from oxford too – she’s doing research there these days, so she can pop down to London rather easily. As usual, it was good to see her – we had a much-needed chat about how every bachelor’s student, at the end of his or her course, goes through the same thing: the same sense of absence. Everybody misses their friends. It’s probably worse for Chris, as she did her undergrad course in Brazil, but she tells me she sees them whenever she can.

At this, I felt a bit better – I was reminded that I needn’t worry. In fact, it struck me that I was in quite a privileged position. How many other people with disabilities get to contract post-bachelor disorder? Historically speaking, not many. of course, this must change: although I could be accused of snobbery here, I see university as having opened so many doors for me, both intellectually and socially, that I think it quite dire that more people do not go. I feel more confident than ever in both areas. Moreover, I, like many others, view it as a vital part of growing up.

This is why I, rather like CaMoron, worry about yob culture: I don’t wish to sound un-pc here, but so-called ‘hoodies’ seem to reject all that I and my family hold dear. To them, learning is uncool (they haven’t seen the photographs on my wall, obviously) which may account for the growing discipline problems in schools. They would rather be on the streets with their friends than in the classrooms, for you can’t look ‘hard’ if you like to learn. The educational establishment needs to re-engage the youth, to make learning cool. Then, maybe, kids will stop trying to look hard and realise there are cooler ways to solve arguments than shooting each other.

welcome back to blighty charlotte jones and hollie lewis

Blimey. It’s the 24th of August already. If memory serves, my good friend Charlie comes home today. She and Hollie (whose dress sense I love, by the way) have spent all summer in Ibiza. I hope they had an excellent time. Unfortunately, due to diary clashes, it’s unclear when I’m going to be able to go and see Charlie, something which I’d really like to do. I’d really like to hear her stories, and to tell here some of mine! Plus, I’d really like more of her mum’s chocolate pudding!

Anyway WELCOME HOME CHARLIE AND HOLLIE! I and I’m sure all the guys at mmu wish you the most pleasant of homecomings.

freud, lacan, marx

There is nothing like a roll up to swettenham for a good think, and today I think I’ve realised something most interesting. In fact, it might become part of my m.a. Then again, it might be totally wrong.

I was thinking, once again, about Lacan. I’ve been reading up on mulvey recently, and I think I now grasp the centrality of the mirror stage and formation of the egoideal. When the mother holds the baby up to the mirror, it sees both itself and a competitor for it’s mother’s affection; it therefore identifies with itself in order to overcome the competition. Therefore we generate our ego-ideal in the symbolic, which forms the basis for the scopic drive. ”The Ego is constructed by identification with the specular image. The relationship between the Ego and the specular image means that the Ego and the Imaginary order itself are places of radical alienation:

”alienation is constitutive of the Imaginary order” (see Seminar III The Psychoses). We may add that this relationship is also narcissistic. Thus the Imaginary is the field of images and imagination, and deception: the main illusions of this order are synthesis, autonomy, duality, similarity.” this leads directly to film theory: the idealised self-image leads to identification with it and thereafther the on-screen hero (I think that’s basically it – just recapping Lacan)

Recently, I’ve been pondering Marx too, and have decided Marxism today is all about school and TV. The ruling class are no longer the factory owners; today, the bourgeoisie are the inteligencia. Think about it – to get anywhere in life today you need a degree. Now, what is at the heart of education? Literacy! I cant think of anything the educational establishment prises more than the written word. In effect, the inteligencia control the symbolic order for they make up most of the writers and film makers. Hence they can manipulate our ego-ideals. He who has mastery over the symbolic, be that language or otherwise, has mastery over the subject, for the ability to manipulate the representation of the ego-ideal is the ability to manipulate the ego. If you can control the on screen hero, you control the idealised self image. The imaginary is structured by the symbolic, which, as mulvey wrote, is controlled by the bourgeois patriarchy. Freud, through Lacan, relates directly to Marx.

However, there is a way out. Rather than class conflict, it is mastery over the symbolic which has the ability to make us all equal: in short, education sets us free. (academia is based on philology). If we all have equal control over the symbolic order, we are all equal. Now, you can see why this has a personal resonance, for it would seem to unite my three major interests of film, education and communication. All three are concerned with controlling the symbolic, which is central to the formation of the ego. Direct control of oneself necessitates direct control of the symbolic, both societally and personally. This, I think, is why disabled people are looked down upon in society – we don’t have enough access to the symbolic. Both inclusion and vocas are ways of remedying this. (see here).

All these ideas are playing around in my head. I may have got it wrong; it may not be new. Right now, though, it fascinates me; perhaps I need to make more trips to swettenham to work it out.

3d my arse

I was listening, while I was eating lunch today, to the news on radio 4. apparently, ” David Cameron has called for a ‘three-dimensional’ fight against youth crime, focusing on families, policing and the justice system.” On the face of it, this looks quite reasonable and liberal, almost echoing ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. Nobody would disagree with this, even me. But if you think about it, there seems to be a contradiction. Even though CaMoron wants to appear liberal and balanced, underneath what he is saying still lie the same old tenets of conservatism. For one, he’s still seeing things in terms of absolutes – in terms of black and white. ‘hoodies are bad’ he says, without really understanding suburban youth culture and it’s disenfranchisement. Instead, he says that this ‘yobbism’ is caused by the breakdown of the family and family values. The conservatives were saying pretty much the same thing in 1909, at the time of the constitution crisis. Moreover, to sociologists, the family is a repressive structure intended to reinforce patriarchy. Thus this 3d approach is nothing of the sort – CaMoron is still seeing in monochrome.

Exactly the same can be said of the special schools debate. Those who favour special schools speak of how ‘one size does not fit all’. Again, at first glance appears accurate, but when it and the motives behind it are examined, it shows a lack of understanding of the issue. Segregating kids causes far more harm than inclusion ever will. It is repressive. So again we see the same distortion – CaMoron’s views and statements, while at first appearing reasonable, are the same old, discredited, ridiculous Tory ideas.