Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Imposing one's Ethos vs. the Wonderful Neutrality of (the Queen's) English
The Today programme just did a package on the Birmingham schools that are under investigation at the moment as part of the "Trojan horse" enquiry. In an interview, a fourteen-year-old pupil said that it wasn't surprising that the school had an Islamic ethos since it was about 99% Muslim, at which the reporter rebuked her, pointing out that as it wasn't a faith school but an ordinary state school it shouldn't have any kind of religious ethos.

Five minutes later, the programme reported on a plan to do away with the sexist terms "Sir" and "Miss" in schools, citing a professor from Sheffield Hallam as suggesting that pupils should use "Christian names" instead. Sigh. I very much doubt that the professor actually used that phrase: this report refers only to first names - so probably this was the BBC showing its "Christian ethos".

Incidentally, last week I was helping out with a school play for a project I'm involved in, and was universally addressed as "Miss" by the 8-year-old pupils there. It felt... weird. (Fwiw, the project is about the experiences of the Somali community in Bristol, and a lot of the children were Muslim.)

aryky

2014-05-17 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Where I work, female teachers are commonly called "Ma'am," which feels weird to me as well, although possibly slightly less insulting than "Miss" would? How would you feel about "Ma'am"?

steepholm

2014-05-17 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

In this country "Ma'am" is mostly reserved for the armed forces and the police (or, with a short vowel, the queen), and those associations would also feel odd, to be honest. Names might be preferable, but of course not every pupil will know every teacher's name in a large school, so it's a tricky one!

On reflection, "Sensei" seems the best solution to me.

aryky

2014-05-17 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

There are certainly students who don't know my name, but all of the ones in my actual classes ought to know my name! And yet they call me "Ma'am" anyway. . . .

At my previous school, with more students from less privileged background, the habit was to call teachers of whatever sex "'cher." I would definitely have preferred "Sensei."


steepholm

2014-05-17 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Now I'm thinking the queen gets the long-vowel version. Suddenly I'm uncertain! But since I will certainly never use either I'm not too worried...

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