Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Language problems. Attitudes. Dangerous artwork.

The other day there I listened to a radio news reporter in France talking to “gilets jaunes” protestors consistently mispronouncing the word, turning them into “gilets jeunes”, young waistcoats instead of yellow ones! This despite conversing quite fluently with French people during his report! Mistaught?! Or a student at a top university where they spoke little actual language during the course?!  I found it annoying and it distracted me from the news and views I was hearing.

Also on the same news item, a Macron supporter was talking about the reaction of people in her town to the president. Hatred! She was astounded. When did that become the norm? she asked. People can have differing views but why does it become so personal? When did people start hating those whose views are different to their own?


The modern world is a harsh place.

Something else language related. How to get more students to take GCSE languages - a problem much in the news lately. Some schools in Sheffield have had student mentors from the University, students of Modern Foreign Languages. Analysis found that more than half of the participating pupils said they would take a language as a result of the mentoring. There was also a knock-on effect on pupils not mentored. Entries were up in Sheffield by 43%. A possible solution!

Before the government jumps on this band wagon they should beware of catch 22. In order to have students at university studying languages and mentoring secondary school pupils, we need students to take languages at GCSE and A level!

Oh, boy!

Here’s more stuff on education. The George Washington high school in San Francisco has a series of murals, painted by a Russian emigré in the New Deal era, depicting scenes from the life of George Washington. Over the last fifty years there have been occasional complaints about the scenes being too graphically violent. And possible racist. A committee has recommended the murals be removed and archived. Perhaps even destroyed.

Maybe we need to be careful about removing upsetting artwork though. How far do you take it? Do we cover up paintings in art galleries to avpid possible offense?

 Food for thought!

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