May 14th, 2014


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.)