posturing for a tiny audience

This is another comment I’d like to pick up and highlight. It’s too important to be allowed to be ‘lost’ in a long and very interesting thread. It’s about what Alan Swindell wrote in the SWSF document (which my post deals with, see reference there), specifically this part:

The debate within our schools and the SWSF on how to respond to internet critics is ongoing. Digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Mumsnet mean that they can reach a wider audience than ever before and in immediate response to breaking news: there is no doubt that any school advancing along the path toward Free School Status will become an immediate focus. At present there is a policy of non-engagement, not least because the alternative can waste a huge amount of time. We monitor and respond with simple statements that direct people to appropriate web-sites. This is probably experienced as dismissive and arrogant by some critics but it is not about to change, however we are always ready to respond to defamation, personal attacks and anything that would be deemed illegal outside of the internet.

ThetisMercurio responded:

Right: libel reform.

If Alan Swindell and co intended to sue a mother who dared to write something detrimental on mumsnet, or Prof David Colquhoun (who he’s too scared even to mention – he should be too) or Dan Dugan, or me for daring to tweet to so many education journalists, and historians (I have a lot of historians following me for some reason, I bet they’re really dangerous) he could have done so by now. Writing on the internet is no defence, and they know it.

All this posturing is for a tiny audience, and what they really really don’t want is a very big audience.

The Free Schools business is going to be very tough, deliberately so. BBC today:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12860477

This is the crux of it. What right do you have, Steiner movement, not to be analysed? Not to face questions about your pedagogy, the basis of your pedagogy, the books your teachers read, the Ofsted (and let’s be honest SIS) reports on your schools? What gives you the right to secure millions, especially at a time of such austerity, without facing the same scrutiny as any other education system? Who do you think you are?

It should be enough, you think, to let things go on as before. To let you decide how your movement is portrayed, with only positive PR/newspaper articles, only chirpy ‘adventures in education’. But the problem is that this isn’t the truth.

You want our money, no questions asked. Come on, boys and girls – no one’s allowed to do that. And now Free Schools will have to compete for funding and prove there’s real demand, not just pretend there is (hiding the brisk turnover in existing schools). You can’t go on blaming Dan Dugan. You would do better, frankly, to blame Sune.

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5 comments

  1. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Yes, well I re-read this whilst contemplating the many occultists I have forced to wear burkas, or beards (sometimes both), whose stoning to death for adultery I have ordered (you know who you are) whilst denying education to all their daughters – by letting them go only to Steiner schools*.

    *note to Alan’s students: this is irony.

  2. Not to mention all the anthroposophists you sent to the gas chambers. Ooops. Irony again. And, no, I don’t mean to take taliban repression or genocide lightly. In case anyone wonders.

    Though, honestly, is there much difference between a burka and a eurythmy gown anyway? From the neck down, they look the same. And I have, actually, read about a eurythmy teacher who proposed something about covered faces. I don’t remember exactly how — if it was masks. The point was to remove individuality from the student/performer. And not because the plot required it, but rather because the individual should not be there. Only the ‘shape’ of a human.

  3. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Some policy of non-engagement, with Alan amongst others posting comments after articles on The Times (behind that paywall, on articles so obscure only the really determined can find them) – and even writing a letter, although that too was only read by Prof David Colquhoun and the moderators. It’s fun to spot how often the same comment appears on different threads, repeated a couple of times on forums like the Local Schools Network, as if the writer is practicing a kind of thrifty literary recycling. How do they think this looks to the casual observer? Non-engagement would mean not posturing in the SWSF newsletter at all. The truth is there’s very little they can say in the face of the evidence, since they wrote most of it or placed it on their reading lists, publicly accessible (after a FoI request) at a British university.

    Defame who exactly? A journalist asked me how that would work, since they were clearly so good at wrecking their own reputations without any help from anyone else.

  4. ThetisMercurio · ·

    Eurythmy/burkas: the problem could be that if you really were utterly obscured you might fall off the stage into the orchestra pit, and that this might damage one of the instruments.

  5. ‘Alan amongst others posting comments after articles on The Times (behind that paywall, on articles so obscure only the really determined can find them)’

    He did? Did he say anything spectacular(ly silly)?

    ‘as if the writer is practicing a kind of thrifty literary recycling’

    Well, if spirits and planets have multiple incarnations, why not messages?? They only help their texts reincarnate. The whole cosmos is involved in a massive recycling scheme.

    ‘Non-engagement would mean not posturing in the SWSF newsletter at all.’

    Indeed. They don’t engage because they can’t engage. All that’s left to them is a game of pretense. That’s my impression. They may think something differently (or imagine things are different).

    ‘Defame who exactly? A journalist asked me how that would work, since they were clearly so good at wrecking their own reputations without any help from anyone else.’

    They could sue one of their own. I’ve seen Sune attempt making such a threat at least once. It fell flat.

    As for the eurythmy burkas, they could leave small gaps for the eyes. On the other hand, some people say they eyes mirror the soul. In which case, as far as individuality goes, the eyes are the most dangerous facial features.

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