Tom Bennett

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Architects of Citizenship GCSE ‘baffled’ by riots

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A rioter, if you live in Hampstead.

The panjandrums of curriculum design were distraught last night, as it finally sunk in that an enormous number of teenagers had decided to riot- despite having been taught Citizenship, either explicitly through a discrete GCSE, or some other modular or integrated model.

‘This defies explanation,’ said one unhappy DfE architect, who did not want to be named. ‘It specifically says in the GCSE not to riot. We taught them all about voting, and local government, and different types of laws and stuff. How on earth they could have misinterpreted this to mean that they should get their best Eveready hoodies on and pitch dustbins through the nearest TK Maxx window, I just can’t imagine. The world’s gone mad.’

Asked whether it was possible that in-school initiatives to explicitly teach children to be better citizens were doomed to failure, our source became aggressive. ‘Of course not! Look at SEAL; see how successful that was, eh? Now children are in touch with their emotions, and teachers know that it’s nice to be nice. Ground breaking.’

Teacher representatives were less impressed. ‘Ah yes, citizenship. It’s like a negative-version of musical chairs; if you get it, you’re out. Created explicitly as a way of getting kids to ‘re-engage with their communities.’ Makes you kind of wonder if there’s a problem with community engagement that it shouldn’t be tackled, oh I don’t know…in the communities maybe, instead of asking us to fix everything in society that appears to be a bit broken. Perhaps if they want kids to start voting again they should stop burgling their expense accounts and hiring crooks. Just a thought.’

Twitter-poll supports abolition of jails, apparently

Meanwhile there was controversy brewing as many criticised the amount of time it took to mobilise middle-class liberalism against the police. ‘It was a disgrace,’ said Athena Chiswick, ‘The riots had been going on for hours before there was a decent outcry on Twitter in support of the poor desperate, excluded victims of society who had been forced into mindless looting of Dixons by a world that doesn’t care. Awful.’

Many ideas have been floated as to the source of the violence, and some expert cultural commentators such as Russell Brand, who apparently is now qualified to comment on such things, have suggested that social exclusion is the root, as well as poverty-related lack of opportunity.

‘Thank God for Russell Brand,’ said a man yesterday. ‘Puts his finger right on it. These children have struggled through fourteen years of free education in a society so cruel and totalitarian that, in theory, starvation and exposure to the elements are impossible. How on earth haven’t they rioted before? Don’t people realise these people are only one giro away from being unable to subscribe to Sky Sports+? You can forget Somalia, Haiti and Ethiopia- these kids are really desperate.’

Others aren’t so sure. ‘Who the fuck rattled Russell Brand’s cage?’ said one yesterday. ‘Five minutes ago he was rubbing his knob on a phone and bragging to Manuel about shagging his grand-daughter. Have you read his book? Sorry; his booky-wooky? He thinks he’s the Messiah, instead of a tiresome lothario who talks about his winky a lot. Interesting that the millionaire Brand went on boozy benders wrecking stuff on anti-capitalism marches. Interesting. Oh, and apparently he thinks Mag Thatch started it. Is Arthur 2 coming out?’

Online, a petition is gathering strength protesting about the severity of the sentences handed out to the first rioters arrested. Entitled, ‘We don’t live anywhere near the riots but we imagine that they were just kids letting off some steam,’ it looks certain to trigger a Commons debate in Cameron’s new ‘listening’ parliament. The Head of the Met welcomed this, calling it ‘A wonderful example of Vox Populi. Anything else you’d like? Free energy? Chocolate that makes you thin? You’re welcome, incidentally.’

Other developments:

  • The ‘police started it’ claims Dianne Abbott, who was among the first to suggest a curfew. ‘They’re getting a bit close to my son’s private school,’ she said, looking worried.
  • The EDL are, it was confirmed, ‘still arses’.
  • ‘It’s a black day,’ said David Starkey, as he completed his retrospective DVD on the Minstrel show, and licked the lid of his marmalade.
  • Putting lots of coppers out on the streets arresting criminals ‘reduces the number of riots’, although experts are so far unable to explain the link between these two phenomena.

5 Comments

  1. maths teacher says:

    See, I didn't mind Brand's article at all. OK, so I'm an old-fashioned leftie, so the reasons for most of society's ills do tend to be distilled for me into “I blame Mrs Thatcher”… simplistic I know, but saying “there's no such thing as society” is manifestly NOT a good place to start. And hearing folk like Gerald Kaufman bemoan looters grabbing tellies does stick in the craw somewhat when GK claimed £8k for a Bang and Olufsen widescreen.

  2. Tom Bennett says:

    I'd like to point out that I also have an irrational dislike of Russell Brand that verges on the pathological. Him and his Winky.

    I can take or leave Kaufman, but just because he's greased his nest doesn't remove the impropriety from looting. I mean, Fred West could say, 'You shouldn't murder for pleasure,' and it would still be true, despite the awkward silence that follow when he'd said it…I mean, where would you look?

  3. Tom Bennett says:

    Need to also mention props to @Michaelmerrick, whose Twitter comment about Citizenship stimulated my learning style to write this. See? Creativity CAN be taught. Except it can't really. Glory be!

  4. RJR says:

    In a fair world, rioters should get the same punishment as MPs that diddle their expenses… they hand the TV back, say sorry and alls well ??

    Just a thought 🙂

  5. Dan says:

    You ask “Where would you look?”…Well, I'd start by looking under the patio in West's case.

    As for the riots, you hit the nail on the head in several recent posts. I think we've reached a tipping point with some young people and it's depressingly hard to see a way back. I've seen it in bus queues outside the college where I worked, in the canteen there and at social events for students. A group of teenagers could shift – in the space of a couple of minutes – from being amiably boisterous to a much more sinister and dangerous force, apparently revelling in their own anti-social behaviour and without any real concern for their own or others' welfare. You always hoped that the majority of good kids would outnumber the insidious influence of the bad ones, but once the tipping point is reached and there are enough wrong'uns to control the group dynamic, it all goes to shit.

    It's probably the same in most classrooms, on most estates and in most football crowds too, and maybe nothing new, but still very depressing to see unfolding in front of your eyes.

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