Now by rights All Change Please! should probably should be commentating on today’s PISA results, but all it intends to say is that it is regrettable that the main purpose of children’s education now seems to be more about political point-scoring and increasing our global standing amongst those who know nothing about teaching and learning. So in a change from today’s news we are pleased to report on a different matter.
Pygmalion, or My Fair Lady for those of you who failed, or perhaps never took, your English Literature O level, is a play written in 1912 by George Bernard Shaw in which a under privileged, uneducated woman is given a rare opportunity to be tutored in how to behave, look and most memorably speak like a high-society lady oughta.
Now All Change Please! is all in favour of encouraging school children to learn how to speak proper in a way which will enable them to communicate effectively according to their purpose and audience. There’s an appropriate language for the street, for the classroom, and for the workplace.
So it is good to discover that the Harris Hacademy (which is sadly not from Hertford, Herefordshire or Hampshire), is clearly trying to do something about it. The question is though whether they are going about it in the right way. And while the poster above may indeed be just a small part of a thoroughly researched, trialled and evidence-based comprehensive whole school policy initiative, All Change Please! must admit to having some doubts.
The first problem is the word ‘banned’. Red rag and Bull are other words that spring to mind. To tell a school child something is banned – especially if it is an aspect of their personal and communal culture – immediately causes resentment, and promotes a thousand ways to ridicule and break what is essentially an unenforceable rule.
Then there are the actual words that have been chosen. ‘Like’, ‘extra’ and ‘bare’ are perfectly acceptable English words, so there’s a good game to be had trying to get your teacher to say one of them and then pointing out he or she has just spoken a banned word.
And there’s nothing wrong with starting the occasional sentence with basically. Basically it’s starting every sentence that way that needs to be avoided. And what’s so wrong with ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah?’
So below is All Change Please!’s suggested revised version of the notice which it would like to offer to the Harris Hackademy as a more workable alternative. In return it would welcome an appropriate donation, relative to the amount of time the well paid senior management team should have spent thinking the whole thing through properly in the first place.
And here for a change is someone who seems to agree!
Followed by more recent news of another school that wants to ban the local dialect
And finally, Hmmm. The All Change Please! Academy? Now there’s a thought…