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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Free will - BURN IT

Apparently, British schools are getting into book burning these days.

A response, or so it says on today's news, to the fact that a few inner city urchins think it's clever to stab each other of an evening instead of watching Eastenders, developing obesity or shoplifting.

Carol Ann Duffy is not the only writer affected by the cull on independent thought, however.

Children are being barred from reading the autobiographies of other such literary heavyweights as former Spice Girls Geri Haliwell and Victoria Beckham, for fears that reading about eating disorders will cause young girls to ditch their lunchtime sandwiches and pick up laxatives instead, while teachers can do nothing but look on, helplessly. The work of Grace Nichols, the author of 'Fat Black Women's poetry' and a long-time favourite of the inner-city teaching establishment (see title), is similarly affected, as teachers fear Nichols' enthusiasm for body fat may also lead youths to develop an unhealthy body image.

The obcenely violent collective works of literary gore-mongerer Geoff Chaucer have been banned outright from all schools, and a major question mark now hangs over the work of one Bill Shakespeare, whose writings include incest, images of racial and sexual bigotry, extreme violence and several incidents of knife crime.
Happily, these are moves that will have little effect on state schools in inner city areas, as they stopped teaching literature by dead white men years ago.

Elsewhere in the country, Argos is thinking of withdrawing kitchen knife sets from its shelves in case such deadly weapons should find their way into the hands of anyone under the age of 24.

And perhaps most shockingly, Copydex 'pyres' are being lit from coast-to-coast, like a modern day Armada, as teachers, ever wary of the intellectual frailty of our nation's youth (after all, they're largely responsible for it), fear access to glue may lead teenagers to a life of misery and drug addiction.

'An exam board is removing a poem about a knife-carrying violent loner from its anthology for GCSE English because of fears over teenage knife crime.
The AQA exam board has decided to withdraw the poem Education for Leisure written by Carol Ann Duffy.
The exam board is writing to schools to advise them to destroy the copies of the anthology - and says it will send replacements not containing this poem.
The poem begins with the line: "Today I am going to kill something. Anything."
It describes the thoughts of a disturbed, isolated individual who feels underappreciated and undervalued and who kills a fly then a goldfish. The poem concludes with this angry loner going outside with a bread knife.
Some teachers have been complaining for years about the poem's inclusion in the anthology.
In 2002, English staff at a school in Hull, East Yorkshire, refused to teach the poem and said they would even tear the page from the book if they had to.
The exam board said the poem had been a "popular choice" for pupils - allowing GCSE English students to debate issues about the state of mind of the poem's narrator.
But a spokeswoman said the board had received a complaint and against a background of fears over teenage knife crime had now decided to drop it from the anthology.
"People will have different views on this - but we have to make a decision in the light of what is currently happening," she said.
The exam board said the decision had not been taken lightly but that the selection of poems had to respond to current "social issues and public concern".
Carol Ann Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, told the BBC's iPM programme that the poem was not a promotion of violence.
"This poem is pro-education and anti-violence. It is not glorifying violence in any way," said Mr Strauss.
"Carol Ann Duffy is a vocational poet for the young. She gets children fired up about language and verse. She talks to more schoolchildren than I've ever met. She's encouraged more people to have a love of words and a love of education than anyone else I know," said Mr Strauss.'

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