Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vampires in the Catholic school.

The overcast skies continue, but at least the rain is warm. So no new photos, and I'm browsing the news again.

What caught my eye this time was the story of a teacher who's in trouble for being an author in her spare time.

She's an English teacher, so it's really quite pertintent. I don't know about you, but if I knew the person teaching me English had a novel or two in print, I'd be more inclined to listen to what they have to say. Rather like being taught chemistry, physics or any science by someone with a list of scientific publications, or being taught cookery by a Cordon Bleue chef.

The publication of her work is surely a credit to her? Proof that she's good at English, the subject she's paid to teach?

Ah, but there's a snag.

She's written an erotic vampire novel. I haven't read it, and I'm not likely to, because that's not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, she's written it, and it's published. That suggests, to me, that she is definitely capable of teaching our children how to write. There is no suggestion that she encourages the children in her care to follow her subject matter, nor that she uses her own book (or anything similar) in the classroom. Nor has she arrived at school dressed as a sexy vampire, attempted to bite anyone, or sat on the high desk at the front of the class with legs akimbo (I'm probably breaking a whole raft of religious rules in my head here. Lucky for me I don't know what they are).

There's more.

The school she works in is a Roman Catholic school in the UK.

Oh dear.

Now she's being investigated by the school. They haven't sacked her, they haven't said they're going to, but once a teacher is the subject of an investigation, for any reason, their career is just about finished. No, it's not fair, but that's how it is.

The school was asked whether it was inappropriate for a Christian school to hire someone who writes gothic novels.

Note, the school didn't say that. A reporter asked the question. A reporter. One of the same group of people who stir up public fury over whether it's socially divisive for Muslim schoolgirls to wear a headscarf to school. My grandmother wore a headscarf, as well as a bizarre thing called a hairnet, and in her latter days had blue hair. So did most of her friends, and they were all nominally Church of England. I saw no reports claiming that these blue-haired, headscarved old women should be banned from anywhere. Thinking back, I doubt anyone would have dared. They could hardly have been described as 'frail'.

But I digress. Back to the point, which at this stage is the inconsistency of the press.

On the one hand, then, they say 'Religion should not be part of school life', a sentiment with which I agree. Religion should be based on choice, not dictated by teachers. Then, when something like this comes up, they say 'How can you let this woman work in a religious school?' Why not? The book she's published has no bearing on her work other than to prove she's good at it. Don't we have 'equality' laws now, or are they to be selectively applied?

The press are only in this to stir up trouble, because trouble sells papers. Left to themselves, all the school needed to do was say to this teacher 'Take your picture off your websites so the kids don't know it's you'.

She's already written under a pseudonym so that's no problem. The whole thing would have drifted away, if left alone.

Unfortunately, the press have caught this, and they smell a witch-hunt. The woman is doomed as a teacher. We are therefore likely to lose an English teacher who has proven her ability in the subject, at a time when the education system in the UK is in an utterly abysmal state.

Her book isn't in a genre I'd read, but nonetheless I hope it sells well. I hope it gets the full Hollywood treatment with all the spin-offs that entails. I hope, one day, she can wave two fingers at the Press and say 'You tried to slap me down, and you failed'.

Newspapers have far too much influence on the way people think. Most of that is because people are stupid enough to believe anything in print. At the same time, the Press have a great responsibility, precisely because of the way people hang on their every word.

It is unfortunate indeed that such responsibility is in the hands of the second most irresponsible sector of the population. Only politicians abuse their position to a greater extent.

So, I suggest we need a 'Slap-a-reporter' day. Try to knock some sense into them.

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