Tom Bennett

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Fascist state now demands that children read Shakespeare

Is this what you want? IS IT?

The educational establishment was up in arms today after claims that Britain was, far from being a reasonably tolerant liberal democracy with a half-decent history of inclusion, liberty and human rights, was actually a pocket universe where Pol Pot, Mao and Stalin all rubbed shoulders in a dismal, hopeless rule of despair and bondage.

The shock revelation was made after it was discovered by a brave, crack civil liberties commando unit (allegedly called ‘Reading Group 6’) that the government had thrown the Fourth Geneva Convention and the legacy of the suffragettes in a shitty bin by requiring all students at GCSE level to study ‘A bit of Shakespeare.’
‘I trust they have all read Charlie and Lola?’
‘It’s an outrage,’ said one parent, chaining himself to the railings of Boris Johnson’s bicycle and pouring petrol down his front. ‘Our grandfathers fought and died so that Brownshirts like Mussolini and Powell didn’t invade the private lives of every man, woman and child in the UK and tell them how to live. Who do they think they are, telling us that our children should read Shakespeare? Shakespeare! I mean, how is that relevant to the modern teenager these days? I can barely understand anything he says: sure, he might have coined the odd useful phrase here and there, but what children need to read is something that speaks to them about their immediate life experiences. Something like 50 Cent says far more to the average suburban child. Well, of course, my children have all read Shakespeare, of course. I mean, I want them to get into University, don’t I?’

‘This is like something out of 1984. Which is a jolly good book, incidentally. Have you read it? You must,’ he said, before lighting a match.

‘Mehr Beatrix Potter! Mehr!’

Advocates in the governent have been shamed into admitting that they do, indeed, ‘require some Shakespeare to be taught.’ But despite allegations that this was abuse, they were unrepentant. ‘Curse you, Reading Group 6,’ they said. ‘You have uncovered our secret plot to make sure that kids have access to a reasonable degreeof their cultural heritage. We shall return!’ he said, before vanishing in a plume of Disney sulphur.

Michael Rosen, author of Let’s Go On A Bear Hunt and apparently, some kind of authority figure on education and political philosophy, warned of further child abuse, pointing out that there might be plans to suggest a reading list at Primary School as well as at a Secondary level. ‘This is totalitarian,’ he said.

We spoke to Adelmo Hernandez, a survivor of the repressive purges of the Pinochet government in Chile, where he experienced censorship, imprisonment without trial, regular beatings for expressing political opinions, and was banned from joining a trade union. ‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘It’s just like that. Thank God middle-class people with their heads up their arses have noticed this before it’s too late and children grow up brainwashed by The Gruffalo and The Hungry Caterpillar. You don’t know how close you came to Fascism, you lucky b*stards.”

Asked if the idea of a partial reading list with a huge variety of options, complemented by a large area of freedom of choice might not be seen as a reasonable way to express balanced support for both a continued cultural inheritance and allowing teachers and schools to design reading curricula sensitive to local, diverse cultural criteria, Hernandez was adamant.

Oh, he’ll get a surprise- a JACKBOOT!
‘Ridiculous,’ he said. ‘Today, it’s reading I will surprise my friend to them at carpet time: tomorrow, they’re marching around the school playground demanding the repatriation of second generation immigrants and putting webcams in cradles and changing rooms. Of course, if the students themselves pick the books, then that’s fine. Yes, even if it is Penthouse and Heat. They’re books, aren’t they? All decisions about what to teach children culturally should be democratic. That’s the best way to decide things, all the time.’

‘Except perhaps in prisons,’ he added, hastily.

‘Next thing you’ll be saying that we have the right to tell them not to bring knives in. Fascist.’

Enid Blyton is 33.