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Friday 10 April 2009

Another BBC Blindspot

It is interesting to see that the BBC yesterday ran an online story on Dr Mary Boulsted's bemoaning of the fact that traditional English lessons were "dying out" and instead being replaced with regimented lessons in "literacy". Two primary reasons were noted as underpinning this shift: Ofsted's rigid insistence that this should be the focus of attention, and the fact that children today lack the attention spans necessary for reading literature rather than mere extracts. The latter is said to arise from their immersion in the world of computers which, it has to be said, does not as yet seem to have lead to the emergence of a proliferation of erudite young bloggers.

There is of course one other extremely pertinent factor that was completely missing from the article and which goes much further towards explaining this 'mystery': our changing national demography, viz, the rapid growth in the number and proportion of children from largely monoglot immigrant groups for whom English is not a mother tongue. Teachers as a matter of necessity have to expend considerable time and effort in ensuring that many children acquire the basics of English before being able to move on to inculcate (if they are then left with sufficient time) a love of our language's rhythms and rich literature. If therefore you are a parent of indigenous stock who has a child that attends a school with a significant admixture (or indeed majority of) non-English speaking children, your child will receive an inferior education to the one that he or she would receive in a traditional British school where the pupils are English native speakers.

That the BBC chooses to ignore this highly salient fact is unsurprising, for this jars with their insistence that all immigration by definition "enriches" our culture and makes society more "vibrant".


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