Friday, December 10, 2010

Sad Day

Just two words? 

I don’t have sufficient to express my feeling on the student or police violence. It takes 1 idiot to throw a snooker ball and light the fuse, so police do what they’re instructed to, and the possibility of peaceful protest collapses. I’m horrified but not surprised. 

True violence happened in Parliament but now public opinion will be against students and Higher Education because of this? This is however not just about tuition fees and the students; subject areas could fold, departments and entire institutions vanish. I don’t support violence at all; the whole sector will loose public support because of it. Well done Clegg, yes, I do blame you for a promise you had no right to make. 

I have sympathy those caught in it, last night and in the long painful run. Lets be realistic about who is in the crowd:

1) This affects kids who are not yet students and some would have been swept along with the excitement then caught in the middle of something more than they could have imagined and will never forget.

2) Who are ‘the students’ anyway? Today (after the previous government pushed everyone they could into HE) ‘students’ represent a large section of our society. Peaceful, intelligent, passionate as well as violent. The violence of course can’t be disputed but the peaceful protest didn’t happen because we don’t see them reported? I meet a huge variety of people in my job and yes there are some who provoke violence but in my domain, many more who would stand peacefully but defend themselves if they feel threatened and frightened.

3) Non-students. What a great opportunity to just get out there and provoke the police, or to express anger about any number of things! They are clearly not all students.

Finally, which muppet/genius approved that the Royal car should be driven into the area?!

Last night I went to TaeKwon Do –I was studying the disciplined art of fighting, with thoughts of violent clashes and a concern for what happens next in my mind. At the same time a very unique group of individuals, all of them friends of mine who I respect more than I think any of them know, locked horns on Facebook: a teacher, a soldier recently returned from serving our country, a IV Dan international level martial artist and teacher, a philosopher and socialist – my truly inspiring brother, another who is also a lecturer in our own department, and another teacher. I'm not sure why but something about this comment feed struck me profoundly as I know each person here and can hear your voice when you speak. I can't explain that but it will stay with me, and I must add my own voice or at least clarify the status update the prompted your words...

Sad day
Because of the vote and disappointment with the government, the violence and disappointment on behalf of the future generation of students, and for colleagues all over the country who will meet the students (customers), parents (customers), the cuts (job losses…the most commercial institutions, not necessarily the best, will survive), the government (social engineers), the public opinion of HE and whatever angle the media choose (more often to put pressure on HE).

Where is Education in this? The word ‘my fees pay your salary’ will not be heard in my lecture room. Now I preface everything with my philosophy for teaching and learning. 

What pains me more is that there will be young people missing an opportunity for higher education, not because they should be doing something more directly vocational (learning a trade), but because they can’t face the albatross of debt, or because they might be worried about saddling their parents with it. A student who trains in physics/music/art/maths graduates and studies a PGCE and becomes a teacher is not the only person to benefit from their training. I hear that there are less than 400 PGCE places for music teacher training in England next year... Hull is cutting 100% funding for their local music services. 

All of this is connected and every ounce of it makes me angry, particularly a government who gain a position of power based on promises made without the facts.

With the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was also announced yesterday and so I remember the sight of a single man protesting in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. 

What next?

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