Results tagged “Guardian” from critical difference

The latest paranoid innovation in British education sounds like something only the U.S. would dream up. How distressing to realize that U.K. adults are equally likely to go absurdly overboard in their attempts to protect children from imaginary risks -- like, say, being assaulted or killed by that nice children's author who's come to address the entire school.

The Guardian's Alison Flood reports:

Set up in response to the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by school caretaker Ian Huntley in 2002, the Independent Safeguarding Authority will vet all individuals who work with children from October this year, requiring them to register with a national database for a fee of £64.

That includes authors who appear at schools as guest speakers. Unsurprisingly, the notion of paying to be insulted and humiliated hasn't gone over terribly well with them.

"I refuse - having spoken in schools without incident for 32 years, I refuse to undergo such a demeaning process," former children's laureate Anne Fine told the Guardian. "It's all part of a very unhealthy situation that we've got ourselves into where all people who are close to children are almost seen as potential paedophiles."

Philip Pullman, fresh from volunteering at the Oxfam bookstore in Oxford (who but a dangerous character would do such a thing? let's hope they conducted a thorough background check), is also vowing this is the end of his visiting schools. "When you go into a school as an author or an illustrator you talk to a class at a time or else to the whole school," the author of the fantasy trilogy "His Dark Materials" pointed out. "How on earth - how on earth - how in the world is anybody going to rape or assault a child in those circumstances? It's preposterous."

As Pullman noted, refusal to be vetted won't harm the bank accounts of writers like him, whose books bring in substantial income. But other authors, who depend on money from school appearances, may have little choice but to fork over their cash and comply.
July 11, 2009 10:18 AM |
I love The Guardian. Truly I do. It has some of the best arts coverage on the planet. But this morning, the paper nearly made me hyperventilate.

It wasn't arts correspondent Mark Brown's story on the dismal representation of women in British theater, film and television, which I was glad to see (not the fact of the underrepresentation, but the stats, and the discussion). It wasn't the article's cheesy headline, "Leading ladies kept out of the limelight." It was where the story ran in the paper.

It's in the Life & Style section. You know: the part of the paper that has categories like Fashion, Homes, Gardens, Craft -- and Women.

Sigh.

Sigh sigh sigh.

The story is linked on the Stage page, in the Culture section, which is where I found it, but that's not where the paper's editors ran it.

Which, really, is pretty disgusting.
June 17, 2009 11:13 AM |
The Guardian reports:

Seven Jewish Children, the controversial play written in response to Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, was performed for the first time in the Jewish state last night, with a couple of hundred people gathering to watch the Hebrew-language production in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.

As is often the case with politically charged issues, some of the locals had a more nuanced view of Caryl Churchill's play than have various strident critics abroad:

"Political plays can be really superficial, but this one was serious and very significant," said Danielle Shworts, 27, from Tel Aviv. Another audience member from the city, George Borestein, 58, agreed. "I am really shocked," he said. "It was a fascinating performance and, to my great sorrow, there is a lot of truth to this play."

The script of the play is here, courtesy of the Royal Court Theatre, which premiered it in February.
June 12, 2009 11:43 AM |
It's such a hoary cliché that you'd think people would be embarrassed to let it pass their lips, but there it was, coming from the mouth of Alistair Spalding, the artistic director of London contemporary-dance temple Sadler's Wells.

The question put to him was why no female choreographers are among the "raft of commissions" he's just announced for the coming season. His response, according to Charlotte Higgins' piece in The Guardian: "'It is something to do with women not being as assertive in that field,' said Spalding. 'It's not that I don't want to commission them.'"

His disavowal reminded me instantly of the time, back in the mid-'90s, that The New Yorker came out with a women's issue, in which almost none of the cartoons were drawn by women. There were a couple -- three at most -- which was par for the course any other week but striking, and strange, for that issue. So when Lee Lorenz, then the magazine's cartoon editor, popped up on a public-radio show, my then-boyfriend called in and asked why that was. Simple, Lorenz explained: Female cartoonists just aren't interested in the single-panel format.

Ah.

Sort of like how women aren't wired for science. Or were emotional females just overreacting a few years ago when Larry Summers suggested to a conference on workforce diversification that "issues of intrinsic aptitude" were to blame for the low numbers of women in science and engineering?

Summers' speech is breathtaking for many reasons, but one of them is the sheer accumulated mass of familiar, multipurpose sexist statements cloaked in pseudo-intellectualism. Then the president of Harvard University, he addressed the issue of fairness in hiring by noting that "there's a real question as to how plausible it is to believe that there is anything like half as many people who are qualified to be scientists at top ten schools and who are now not at top ten schools."

That may be true, but it takes an almost willful myopia not to see that myriad, sometimes elusive factors -- such as encouragement, mentoring, and hostility real or perceived -- have a substantial and direct bearing on both an individual's decision to pursue a field and his or her success in it. If a given group faces more obstacles to professional development, it follows that fewer of its members will emerge in the top ranks.

Spalding sounds similarly willing to believe that the level of female representation in choreography is out of his hands.
May 12, 2009 12:13 PM | | Comments (7)
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