There will be a thematic nod towards the issue being criticised, then some statistics that ignore the point being made and which prove that everything is, in fact, tickety bo, if you please.
I always wonder what is going on in their heads as they issue statements that completely ignore the very issue at hand, vehemently toeing the party line to the point of willful self-deception of reality. Luckily, I have uncovered some rare footage of Nicky Morgan talking to Andrew Marr, where you can hear the actual sounds produced by the Education Secretary’s brainwaves: her ‘inner monologue,’ if you like.
You occasionally get blog posts or ‘news’ that highlight the surprising children’s names that are beginning to crop up. You know the sort of thing, ‘Brioche tops bizarre baby name lists for 2015’ which often contain an implicit suggestion that the poor child with turn out scarred for life as a result (and if it isn’t implied in the article, it will only take about two comments before someone says that’s what will happen).
In teaching, supply teaching particularly, you encounter all sorts of names on a daily basis. Most of them are ‘normal’ names, some names are strange; Cayc (pronounced ‘Casey’, not ‘Cake’), some names have clearly been given to a child through some cultural mis-understanding (I once taught a boy called Timotei and a friend knew two siblings called Sainsburys and Waitrose because the parents wanted to pick something that sounded English). And some names are just unfortunate through no fault of the parents; I once taught a girl called ‘Isis’. With the best intentions, she was probably named after what the Thames is called as it meanders through Oxford. How very English. Instead, due to the unfortunate timing of world politics, her parents now look like terrorist sympathisers.
I reported her and her family to the local Prevent officer just to be on the safe side.
However, last week, I taught a child with an unforgivable name and who’s parents had no justifiable excuse to give to the child. Last week, I taught Iain Duncan Smith.
This was a child in Y1. The ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith has been a political name for a long time, since well before the child was conceived, (not like Jeremy Hunt or Nicky Morgan for example, who have risen to infamy in the last 5 years or so) and the school is in an affluent, middle class area (potentially, a bit Conservative), so I can not imagine a situation whereby his parents were not aware of who the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith was when their child was born or that they gave their son the same name through some unfortunate labour ward, baby-brain, birth certificate confusion.
Maybe naming their child Iain Duncan Smith was an obscure act of defiance but even if your surname was Smith and, ever since you were of child-baring age, the name Iain Duncan fills you with admiration and conviction that the person who bares that title will be an honourable and kind-hearted individual (even if, in your heart of hearts, you also believe those are the qualities of our former Work and Pensions Secretary), the existence of the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith negates all of that. The only outcome of naming your child Iain Duncan Smith is that you, as parents, come across as strange sycophants with a really weird and specific celebrity obsession. That, and a child with a ridiculous name.
And to prove that this works across the political spectrum, if your surname was Milliband, would you call your son Ed? If you were Mr and Mrs Clegg, would you name your firstborn Nick? And if you had the more prosaic surname of Brown, how would you feel introducing your 6 year old by saying “This is Gordon Brown”?
Maybe Iain Duncan Smith’s parents were hoping that the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith would fade into obscurity as their child grew up (but considering they named him after a former leader of the Conservative party, that seems a bit rash).
Thinking that if I’d been named after a well known politician of the era, maybe time would have dulled the collective memory and the average layperson would not make the link, I randomly checked who the Shadow Education Secretary was when I was born, only to find it was Neil Kinnock. To save me the trouble, can you just make up your own satirical comment that suits your own political leanings?
Some names have been changed to protect the innocent victims of these heinous crimes.
P.S. If you liked this post, please continue to use air parenthesis and the word ‘real’ whenever you mention Iain Duncan Smith.
Shortly before the Easter break, it was parents’ evening. Having done a few years worth of them as a teacher, it’s now interesting to be on the other side of the table as a parent.
In no particular order, here is a run down of some of the parental archetypes you might meet (or be) at parents’ evening:
The no-show: My personal favourite. The parents that insist on booking their meeting, telling you that they must have the 4:25 slot as they can’t get out of work any earlier and have to get off to something in the evening. Then, when 4:25 comes, they don’t appear.
However, they will turn up at 3:45 the following day and request ‘a quick informal chat’ that lasts an hour or so…every silver lining has a cloud, and all that.
Angry at school: A foreboding beast. They are extraordinarily irked by some trivial aspect of your school which is probably well outside your control. However, this won’t stop them spending the entire meeting berating you for the catering company’s dinner schedule of serving pasta on a Thursday.
The prodigal parent: There is nothing prodigious about this parent but they have a prodigal child who can do no wrong, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Despite the fact that, in class, the child spends most of the day licking crayons, talking to the radiator and stabbing other children with a glue stick, at home they fluently speak three languages, can effortlessly carry out long division and are working on re-plastering the garage.
The insecure one: You must remember, it is not your job to just teach their children but you are also a shoulder to cry on and a compassionate listener. You must compassionately listen while these parents regale you with details of their latest infertility issues.
The other teacher: A potentially dangerous creature, especially if hybridised with Angry-At-School, where, not only does their school does things better than you but they themselves do things better than you, despite the fact that they are a GCSE P.E. teacher and you’re teaching their five year old.
Which parents’ evening parents have you met? Which parents’ evening parent are you?
Last week I got an email from a chum who works for Channel 5 news, saying that they were ‘looking for teachers who are leaving the profession’ for a story the following day. Would I be interested in taking part?
Unfortunately, by the time I’d replied in the affirmative I was told that they had found someone else. While it might be the case that someone who was a more eloquent, experienced and geographically more convenient than I was found, I’d not rule out that it was, once again, the work of ISIS – just like the time they almost stopped me from appearing on Vanessa Feltz.