Tag Archives: media

Jamie Oliver’s Dream -Nightmare-school.

We watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Dream School on Channel 4 last night. (I am guessing it will stream on Ch 4 Youttube at some point). The premise is that for 2 months Jamie Oliver will run a small school of 20 disaffected teenagers who have all left school without the GCSEs of life. Various famous people are then called in to teach them.

The mix of students is so obviously “planned” that it’s irritating from the start; There’s the mix of black and white, boys and girls and then the usual token gay person and token posh-kid-dun-badly. It seems that more than one had been excluded from mainstream education and/or had been through a Pupil referral Unit. I haven’t seen any children there who lost out at school because of bullying or identified learning problems – the group are just the “naughty” kids. I can only assume this is because that’s better “viewing”.

Even though all 2o youngsters have failed and been failed at school and that at least two had been in a PRU it was deemed right that all 20 should be in classes together. I couldn’t work out why.

The best lesson was the sailing one where only about 5 went on the boat so it was manageable and there was a definite goal and reason for being there. Brilliant stuff.

Rolf Harris as the art teacher did much better than I was expecting. I got the impression he was in this because he genuinely thought he could offer the children something worth while – and he got some very good results. One or two of those children have talent in that area. I hope he gets the chance to bring more out of them. He was sad at the end of the lesson because he – rightly- pointed out there were two many to get around to.

I think an opportunity to offer something to other children who haven’t been “naughty” has been missed here because of the weird insistence of a massive group. Having said that; when I worked with youngsters like this one thing struck me; those who had a probation officer did better than those who just had a social worker or no one. Crime does pay it seems.

The rest of the program was pretty awful. The famous actor Simon Callow did ok, but I did wonder why he chose such a huge, broad and difficult to read subject as Shakespeare for a starter lesson.

Lord Winston was arrogant, childish and crass. After dissecting a pig sending lots of them off to throw up the poor kids were told THEY were the ones being disrespectful! No – he was. He plainly wanted the session to be “The Shocking Winston Show!” and it was. There was nothing there for the students. Even the rat dissection was mishandled. It came across as a powerful man wanting to stamp on those he saw as useless sub-kids. Sad.

Starkey was no better. I can’t say if he was worse. His blatant rudeness to a boy he deemed “Fat” was truly naff. I did smile though when the “fat-bad” kid talked so maturely and sensibly with his mother about how he had behaved and how he intended to speak properly with Starkey. Of course he didn’t get the chance (yet) because the man refused to do the next lesson. A “nobody important” came to teach jousting which got very little air time – but looked like a good lesson.

I would like to believe that Jamie Oliver’s motives are genuine. However, the school system was designed to fail as many children as possible- read Gatto, Mason, Holt, etc.- and has done so marvellously. Why does Mr. Oliver want to get the youngsters to repeat the broken system but with  clever-celebrities?

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Our children and technology.

The questions and arising problems of children with certain technology keeps coming up. This article and this one also linked from Zoe Romanowsky come at the question from two angles. First of all there is the question of the gross and cruel misuse of computers and phones and then there’s the over use, more often than not linked to misuse of computers, TV, game console and mobile phones. The question of why all these children have phones has never been properly answered. Some children might need one because of long, often difficult journeys to and from school – but why do so many children have them?

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Institutionalisation leads to dependancy; another reason to Home Educate.

We watched a few minutes of Emergency Bikers last night. It’s a programme that follows the work of the paramedics and police in Birmingham.

As they followed the paramedics there was an astonishing statistic put out by the narrator that of all the 999 calls the bikers are sent to deal with, only around 10% are actually real emergencies. The rest are from people who can’t take care of a bit of a problem or are deliberately hoaxing. I was very surprised, and a little dubious of the figures.

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The Triumph of Gareth Malone.

It did occur to me after posting the last review about Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary school for boys that if the final episode showed that he had not achieved much, if anything, then Home Education might look a bit dodgy too. After all that waxing lyrical about how Gareth’s approach was so much like so many of us home educating parents, well then, I was hugely relieved it worked.

Whether there is a truly empirical base for how home education works is one of those debatable points. The lack of full empirical data is a lovely excuse in driving the fact-twisters like the comedy duo Badman and Balls to come up with their “stats” on home educated young people.  There is one oft spoken of problem with the school approach to education that those of us who educate our own children mutter about over cups of tea – the appallingly naff and girly National Curriculum, and the institutionalised approach to education which barely allows children to learn and be interested in anything for themselves. In fact many of us would say it is a definite handicap to learning.

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Young’uns and the media

World Youth Day is over and I have barely caught any of it on EWTN as yet and I haven’t bothered with the MSM. They never tell you anything.

I have however read the Holy Father’s speech’s. He knows how to tell the truth doesn’t he?

Philip has posted the speeches in full, as well as a post showing a bizarre video of some bloke called Jenson. Read the text of the Holy Father’s speeches HERE and HERE. I haven’t actually had a chance to get the kids to read this stuff yet, but they will when they get an opportunity.

Sometimes I think holiday time is actually busier than term!

In his out reach to the young people at WYD the Holy Father talks bluntly about the real evils in modern life, drug and alcohol abuse and the way the media portrays evil.

“Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created. Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation “explain” that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely “entertainment”?”

He eloquently points out what so many refuse to see. I was struck by these words particularly as at the moment I am reading Teresa Tomeo’s little book ‘Noise’.The subtitle is “How our media-saturated culture dominates lives and dismantles families.”


Josh brought this book back from his trip to America.

The book is pretty short but it is packed with research and case study evidence of the massive damage being done to families and individuals by a bombardment of poor quality and down right nasty media. She tells of the impact the growing and very business savvy pornography industry is having on families.

There seem to be two main areas of the media that parents need to be on top of. First there is the fact that we have to police what our children get access to in programmes, music, internet sites, and friendships as well as printed material such a magazines.

Secondly we need to be on top of how much of even the good stuff we allow. Hours in front of a screen is a bad idea even if they are watching something as excellent and wholesome as Ray Mears.

Most of what this book offers is just plain old common sense. That fact that she has had to write this and that there is a definate need for people to read what she has to say only goes to show that plain of common sense is nowhere near as common as we might like it to be.

She talks about the impact daft thin, nearly dead girls have on the girls watching. Tomeo herself suffered from anorexia as a result of trying to be like someone she had seen on TV. She also points out that the plastic surgery industry is doing remarkably well out of the desire to look like those plastic people on TV.

The book packs a lot of information. There is the increased alcohol consumption among children who admit adverts have encouraged them to drink; there’s the effect of violent video games.

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