So Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education minister, thinks “White working-class children should be motivated to become more aspirational in schools and “push themselves” “. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jan/03/white-working-class-boys-should-be-more-aspirational-says-labour-minister
Aspiration has been a buzzword for a while now in educational discussions, although I rarely read or hear the term buzzword now which is a little ironic if you can be bothered to think about it, anyway I digress as is my wont and this distracts from any point I may be trying to make and although occasionally interesting is typically boring and anyone who still actually reads will have clicked and moved on to look at some other screen candy that’s caught their eye.
Aspiration, who could possibly be against such a noble aim for our young folk? Especially for those at the bottom of our class-sodden society, and especially for the ‘indigenous’ white lowest class, and the male ones at that. Well me for one. Rayner’s argument is that because there have been successful educational initiatives such as in London, with ethnic minorities and with girls which have worked in terms of improving their academic achievements this has had a negative effect on white ‘working-class’ boys. There is some truth in this but, I’d argue, this has merely confirmed their feelings that the education system as it is is not for them as those that ‘succeed’ within the system are not like them and they are right. What underpins this divide in our country is the class system and, if you think about it, trying to encourage these ‘white, working-class boys’ to be more ‘aspirational’ is an attempt to get them to be more like people they are not.
A primary defence of our elitist education system that we should get all our educational establishments to emulate the ‘elite’ educational establishments (wow, what alliteration!). This assumes, which comes easily to a class sodden society, that the likes of eton and harrow are ‘elite’ (note how the ‘elite’ schools are male establishments).
People will promote the very occasional story of how the gritty poor, but talented, kid makes it against all the odds and they become role models. One such is Lewis Croney who made it to Cambridge to study maths and has been used in a documentary by Professor Green (a white working-class rapper) called Working Class White Men. Lewis said: ““People genuinely think people like me should not go to this university because it’s so prestigious. There’s too much stigma that it’s really about the rich that discourages people from applying from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
This is being said now, this is the current actualite of our divided society.
So, I dislike the the term ‘aspirational’, it puts the onus (bit like buzzword onus, isn’t used much anymore, maybe because it’s so close to anus) on the young folk to buck their ideas up and with a bit of support they too can aspire to be like the privileged few. No, the onus needs to be on creating a genuinely world class, just and equitable comprehensive educational system.
It can be done, witness what’s happening in the world of sexual politics. Just watched Oprah Winfrey’s brilliant speech at the Golden Globes and white, male privilege can be challenged: https://youtu.be/LyBims8OkSY
I watched this and tears were streaming down my face, the righting of injustice is very powerful and is something more of us should aspire to.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.