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March 17, 2011


Francis Sedgemore

But there's a twist. What about those professionals/experts who go on the telly and are so full of themselves in their celebritiness that they behave like complete and utter culture secretaries?

Luis Enrique

if you take this too far, nobody could ever open their mouths without being accused of ego mania.

Andrew King

Subjectively this an excellent post by Chris Dillow because it precisely echoes my own prejudices. Objectively, bringing Alastair Campbell in to teach kids about politics, even in the unreal world of reality TV, is the work of a dangerous maniac who shouldn't have unsupervised access to sharp kitchen knives.

Luis Enrique

"And then there is the celebrity culture - the belief that celebrity is somehow a general purpose technology that can do anything."

isn't it merely that people will watch a celebrity do anything


Thanks Andrew.
In fairness to the kids, how badly would we behave if we were stuck in a classroom where Alastair Campbell was a teacher?


I dont think I can stomach anymore of this garbage, these kids are spoonfed and according to them the whole world owes them a living- also all must be handed to them on a plate - lets not bother to make them sit down, shut up and listen to the taechers so they might learn something - no lets just blame the system, the teachers and the whole world in general- the fact is they are lazy - rude and dont actually want to achieve anything via hard work - lets get the Grammar schools and Secondary schools back and teach them 1950 s style- that will MAKE them respect the teachers and they can either pay attention to what is being taught them, or fail to listen and end up with no qualifications and it will be their own fauly NOT the system- Celebrities go away, get the good teachers back and let them teach the good old fashioned way. Sorry Jamie I have no idea what you were thinking about, but this is truly appalling and may I suggest you stick to cooking, because in this case you dont have a clue Celebrities are NOT THE ANSWER


Isn't your fear of egomania a sign that you are somewhat relativist too?
After all, if I read you while you do not read me, well, let's hope this time you will, it is simply because you know more than me.
The problem today is that every time less teachers seem to believe this: those who know must talk and those who don't must listen. To create, that obsession of today's education, one must start by copying.


"am I not guilty of exactly the same egomania I am decrying - namely, that I assume you give a toss about my opinion, and that it is a bad thing if people are not like me?"

I don't care; I'm just enjoying the way you're echoing my prejudices here. ;-)


Chris: "In fairness to the kids, how badly would we behave if we were stuck in a classroom where Alastair Campbell was a teacher?"

We know the public personas presented by Alastair Campbell and David Starkey. But do we assume that school kids who appear in a reality TV programme watch News Night or listen to the Moral Maze?

I confess that, whilst owning an eclectic music collection, I had to look up Jazzie B. He is probably in my collection somewhere but I didn't know the name.

And there is an accidental scientific method to the programme. Professor Robert Winston has a title that identifies him as a boffin; Simon Callow will be known to almost any teenager; a few might be aware of Daley Thompson or Jazzie B (or twig that they are present because they are black British heroes).

Thus the performance of "teachers" who are known or indirectly labelled can be compared with others drawn from the great and good.


"Simon Callow will be known to almost any teenager"

I find this unlikely. I'll do a straw poll tomorrow and let you know...


On the other hand in Victorian times the young were to be "seen and not heard". If the young have too much ego it shows they are not cowed into self hatred or false humility by social oppression. They may lack self awareness but they are not brainwashed into "knowing their place". Good luck to them!


in my mind the closest parallel to this show is 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here' with Jamie playing the part of Ant and Dec, with the children provide the Bush Tucker Trials. (D'Abbbro is the khaki-clad safety warden, at the corner of the screen, standing ready to club the scorpion with mallet if it's about to bite).

No, there's no scientific method, becasue there's no real point to it.. there's no hypothesis that Jamie's trying to prove.

It's good fun though, isn't it? Just as we felt sorry for poor Katie Price in her fifth trial, but still voted her back for a sixth, I am not sure I will be able to resist putting my hand up the next time I go to hear Starkey lecture on the South Bank and ask 'I am not beeing funny or anythin', but has you always been 4'10'?"


Celebrity dreams are the easy way out for politicians, voters, and young people alike.

Celebrities are the meeting point between rich individuals (whether valuable otherwise or not) with an air of experience and trust. There comes a point where the two merge and catapult each other into "hypercelebrity", where an individual is trusted because they are rich, and rich because they are trusted.

"Normal" people love citizens because they're rich. "Politicians" love citizens because they can fake authenticity, and because "normal" people love them. TV execs love a celebrity culture because it gets people to buy shit up.

Practicality or reality have nothing to do with it.


[am I not guilty of exactly the same egomania I am decrying - namely, that I assume you give a toss about my opinion]

Well no, because your post imparts some valuable ideas and information, unlike anything written by Melanie Phillips or Polly Toynbee (ot Martin Wolf whoever he may be).


But it couldn't possibly succeed as an experiment in education as it is misconceived from the start: (a) it is a telly prog (ie set-up, directed, edited, etc., & placed in slot so as to optimise viewing figures + adsales), (b) it is essentially entertainment [see (a)], and (c) the kids were selected from a pool of the most disruptive (ie guaranteed NOT to benefit while providing plentiful drama) ... and, yes, as far as I know not one of the teachers has secondary school teaching experience.

A more interesting idea, surely, would be to select a small group of quietly-behaved kids who've for whatever reasons been let down by the state educational system but who show promise plus willingness to learn, and give each a series of 1:1 sessions with good teachers of subjects of their choice/greatest aptitude?

But, of course, that wouldn't make 'interesting' viewing, would it ;-)?


Egocentrism is highly negative for a child's education as it prevents them from being humble and ready to incorporate new views and opinions.


Those tv programs for children really don't show good examples for them.

Rupert Willis

I liked this post, I think you hit a number of nails bang on the head... especially the preoccupation with form over substance and the boot strapping nature of celebrity (people know who I am, so I must have something worthwhile to say).

As for your concern about being egocentric ... we are all egocentric to a greater or lesser degree. The real questions are ... are you sufficiently grounded in reality to keep it in check, and do you have something worthwhile to say?

For what it is worth, I think you do fine on both counts.


Bit harsh on Martin Wolf I would have thought, lumping him in with Polly and Mel. He does at least try and base his comment on evidence. I may of course just be defending him as his views do often reflect my prejudice.


I think what annoys me most about this programme is that these students have already been schooled by experienced, qualified teachers without success, yet now they are being 'taught' by so-called experts in the field whom have no experience in the art of teaching. If this is not a slight against the teaching profession and what it has achieved then i don't know what is. You might argue that this is well demonstrated by the abject failure of some of the experts in this regard but this was all too predictable outcome to anyone with a modicum of common sense and as such seems to me to be nothing more than yet another gaudy, voyeuristic tv programme exploiting those whom know no better. If we want inspire future generations to 'respect' the elders and the society they shape and represent for the better, then we have to show the younger generation how to do this and reflect this in the images that they see everyday. Sorry Jamie - no doubt you can cook, so stick to what ur good at....


I think the problem is that the whole country has somehow been brainwashed into thinking it is the teaching professions fault that these kids are acting like this, its not, the teaching profession has been handicapped in how it can discipline kids to the point where they now have no way to control them, and the kids know it. Punishment exercises and report cards are all fine and well where you have a parent at home who will act on it (Mine would make sure it didn't happen again) but what happens when, as we see all to often in todays society, the kids going home to an alcoholic, or a criminal parent ... or even the type of parent who seems respectable but who just can't admit that butter may melt in their kids mouth and the teacher could have a point (as seen in the previous episode and was only accepted after seeing video evidence).

Sue Griffith

Oh Jamie what were you thinking of? Totally agree with previous comments that the whole concept of this programme is implicitly confirming that these pupils have not done well before because their teachers (my heart goes out to them) couldn't have been good enough. Not expert dream teachers. They don't even have respect for each other so they certainly won't have for anyone older and wiser. Ah I hear you say, that's because they don't respect themselves. No they don't. But they love themselves. Don't give them privileges others would fight for, take them to Africa and show them them kids who can't afford education. Show them something to take their minds off themselves. Call them under-priviledged? No way.

Gary Shanahan

I agree with your assessment of the 'Head'. He failed consistently to demonstrate any leadership qualities, lacked moral fortitude and appeared incapable of exercising judgement based on setting standards or boundaries. A more ineffective individual I could not imagine, an absolute failure.


If you really want to know what goes wrong with schools then do an FoI request to Ofsted and ask how many inspectors are qualified teachers, and if they are, how many have practiced more than 5 years and 10 years and how long ago they stopped. Then ask your self how you came to support a "standard orientated" system that systematically undermined teachers teaching as professionals and reduced them to box-tickers for Ofsted and the government. Then ask yourself how the national curriculum eliminated the ability for teachers to explore subjects with children or indeed give a broader education. Then ask yourself whether there are any children in this country who have had bad upbringings and how they are to be integrated into schools and edcuated. Then ask yourself why you think you may have the answers.
I don't think JO was trying to answer a question - he was asking a question - about a group of children who are very rarely seen or represented in the media save for generalised oppobrium heaped on them.

Jackie Green

Re: Minnie's comment. I home school my son, aged 13, due to being assaulted 5 times in yr 7. The education system has dramatically let him down, but will he get a chance to be educated by such experts in their own field? I think not. Fortunately, he will still make it, he has the spark that will get him to where he wants to be.

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