Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Soft Target

I typed up the third part of the Legong tale this morning, but I’m sorry that post it going to have to wait because something else has not been sitting well with me since yesterday (and it’s not the vast amounts of wine I drank yesterday to numb the shock of going back to work). In the two months since I last walked through the building’s doors we have been classed a ‘soft target’ for terrorism and have had anti blast film stuck on the windows. Security cameras have also been installed and we now have to wear security badges at all times. Admittedly much piss taking ensued yesterday and we had great fun waving them at Colleen and making out that we were better than her because we had one and she didn’t, but then in the light of a more sober day I’m beginning to realise what is not right about all this.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t take security or safety lightly. No way, when I book overnight field trips I book with a company that charges three times more than a French company because I feel that their levels of security and safety are better. When I go on trips I am anal to the point of ridicule, but I just can’t take these measures seriously, I never have.

Weeks after 9/11 I remember being dragged off by my principal so that she could go over the ‘red alert’ measures with me. I found it very difficult to keep a straight face (not helped by the fact that my colleague was pissing herself behind the principal’s back) as she scribbled the measures down in red pen. After the Iraq war started the new principal decided to take the sign down. Well fine, but perhaps she should have discussed this with the RATP and Bus company where we are still clearly advertised on their maps. And now this.

It’s not because I grew up in the 70’s that I think these measures are stupid. I grew up in London under the shadow of IRA terrorist attacks. But I guess what was different then was that we weren’t so scared. Last year I was definitely a little bit uneasy going through Aldgate East station in late July and that really pissed me off. Not as much though as a colleague changing seats on the metro because the man opposite was reading something in Arabic script. That’s what all this is building too; people sitting on the tube looking at my brother funny because his skin is a bit darker and he’s carrying a rucksack.

And what really pisses me off with this business at work is that we are an educational establishment. There we are spouting off to the kids that we value traits such as being open-minded and principled and yet what are our principles? Trust no one and fear everything? Are these the values I want to instil in the future generation? Absolutely not.

Maybe I am creating a worse case scenario here. Maybe we are doing enough, but I just can’t help thinking that if we have got to the state that we are in today it’s because society (and that includes educationalists) have been sitting wrapped up in their four walls navel gazing ignoring the real problems of the world at large. Perhaps it’s too simplistic to say that poverty and greed are the driving force behind the world’s problems today, I’m not an economist. I’m just getting this growing feeling that if I am to do my job well then that means making my mind up and guiding students towards asking those difficult questions and challenging paradigms.

3 comments:

Shameless said...

Well said! I couldn't have expressed that better myself. It's nice to have you back. Which part of Paris are you in now? I look forward to reading your new stuff.

Minx said...

Fear begets fear and will continue until we are all holed up in secure compounds - oh yes, that's right, I work in one of those schools already!

skint writer said...

It's clearly the fear and consumption model - Big Brother is here and who knows what truth is - keep 'em scared and all that

The world has the most to fear from the two B's -
Big Brother or B-lair B-ush - they're the same thing

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