Mar 022009

Teaching a lesson on bias today, I gave my pupils a copy of Philip Pullman’s article in Friday’s Times. I’d link to it, but…

They read it carefully, some with dawning expressions of horror, and afterward we discussed his point of view and what influence he might be trying to exert.

At the end of the lesson, I said, ‘And do you know what? I read that article on the Times website at lunchtime on Friday. By Friday evening, it had disappeared.’



‘Dude,’ said one of them, with a kind of appalled admiration; ‘Pullman’s right!’

[Another money-quote from the lesson today: ‘You’d think, if someone were going to be in government, they’d at least bother to have some brains.]

How is it that children barely out of nappies can understand the implications of this stuff, but the British people by and large cannot? What the hell?

  9 Responses to “13-year-olds smarter than Times editors”

  1. Excellent – I wonder how often what PP wrote will be used in state schools?!

    Let’s hope their understanding isn’t beaten out of them by the time they reach adulthood.

  2. do i take it the article appeared in the print version (and you have it) or am i misunderstanding you? either way, it’s a sad reflection on free speech in this so-called country.

  3. Google Times and Pullman and you get

  4. Clare — it was taken down and then put back.

    Prodicus, among others, has preserved it.

  5. “‘You’d think, if someone were going to be..”

    Whoa!! Shouldn’t that be “if someone WAS going to be..”?

    English has a subjunctive conjugation too, you know.

    Tsk, the state of education today. 😉

  6. You’re right, I put my foot in my mouth there. :

    After posting that I did some research and had my fears confirmed:

    “If only she were here, then she would speak up.
    She is not here, however, so the subjunctive expresses that fact appropriately. Again, If only she was has drifted into modern usage and should be avoided.”

  7. No worries. Believe it or not, I’m told at work to stop my students from using ‘archaic’ expressions like the subjunctive – in English, that is. I’m told to encourage them to use it in Latin. Which is perfect, because although the English subjunctive is rather cumbersome, the Latin subjunctive is one of the loveliest and most elegant pieces of syntax I’ve ever encountered.

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