Well I got in from the fields, bolted down some hot chips and jumped on my bike without so much as a cup of tea to hydrate the carbo - I was in a hurry. I warm-footed it through Newlyn, past the old chy of William Lovett, our local hero and a godlike figure to libertarian types. In his day he was top of the charts… but I hurried on, I was going to Mousehole, a medium-sized city in West Penwith famous for Dolly Pentreath, a wild Keltek babbler and Ysgwier Keygwyn, an old-style blood and fire aristocrat who utterly refused to speak the Spaynek tongue and paid dear for it.
The 'public consultation' meeting to ostensibly discuss the future of our school had been set for 6.00pm, in consideration of those families with small children to feed and settle down for the night. Despite being asked to text the parents, and despite the parents being virtually cyber-stalked with text-messages about cake-stalls and quizzes, it was not deemed expedient by the governing krats to text the parents about a trivial thing like a public meeting on the future of the school. I arrived a little late and walked into a packed house (only kidding). I made a conservative head-count (as it were) and estimated 30 - 35 attendees. But on closer inspection, I think it was more like 31. I sat in the front row with some smart folks and tried to turn my attention to what Chris Roynon, the head-teacher, was saying. He had a chart of ‘head-lines’ and was ‘myth-busting’ - rather like what happened at the last P.C. I attended some years back. The technique is to anticipate the arguments of the ‘opposition’ and publicly destroy them one by one, thereby winning the argument with a consumate and debonair flourish. I turned on my wire-machine, but have to admit that after a few minutes I turned it off to save batteries. I was hoping for some good copy, something old Brennigenn would have approved of… Anyway, the minutes ticked by and I was all psyched up to talk before a big meeting so I was feeling kinda restless, like a feral cat in a Fun House. I thought I’d try my hand at doing some ‘court-room’ style sketches of some of the main actors. I tried to catch the energy of the event, the sort of stilted, sluggish, formal formalism of it, or, to be brutally honest, the sheer, dull, irrelevance and uninspiring atmosphere (not totally uninspiring) and the lack of debate left me feeling like I was watching the ritual of a tribe that came from very, very far away. Perhaps there was some mutuality to that. Anyway, Chris spoke at length and debunked every extant ‘myth’ and a few that have yet to be spaketh. A few other people said a couple of things and points were made, but the conversation never once broke through into anything like spontaneity. This ‘education expert’ bloke kept going on and on and on and on and on and after a while I realized why 89 per cent of the parents had had the wisdom to stay at home and enjoy a delicious and leisurely dinner in the bosom of their respective families. Oh lucky people! After a while, there was a clearing in the word-thicket so I seized my chance and asked the folks present whether they would mind if I addressed the meeting for five minutes. After securing public consent, I sashayed up front and took a nice comfy chair, facing da people. For about five minutes I poured it on, (actually it was 9:36 - Ed.) then I thanked the small but dedicated crowd and returned to my seat. I tried to stick around to hear the rest of the meeting, but frankly, as I said to the folks there - “I came here for a public meeting - where is everyone?” and I felt that I’d said my bit and simply could not bear to sit there any longer when I had so much to do. Within ten minutes I was sitting on a rock, gazing out to sea, feeling curiously happy.I’ll now give a transcription of my little verbal message to the Mousehole academic community. I have to say also that there were some quite humorous moments in the meeting - particularly when one lady asked “is there going to be a vote?” (on whether or not to ‘academise’ the old school) I couldn’t suppress a titter. Who can? After a long and somewhat pregnant pause, Chris and the ‘education expert’ both said ‘no’. When I thought about it afterwards as I sat on the rocks, I laughed mirthfully at the quaint, delicate and ephemeral human drama of it all and the form in which it is all cast. Atoms oscillate between waves and particles and the stream of consciousness laps it all up. Rantscription follows:
"Well, my name’s Jeremy Schanche, I’m a parent, I’ve got a five-year-old girl here. I’ve also got a connection that goes back to the last century when my son went here. He was actually removed from this school against my will. I told Nigel that I was very happy with Mousehole School at the time - I had no complaints whatsoever, I wanted my son to stay there - that’s history… My point is I’m very happy with Mousehole School as it is and I’ve got some extremely deep objections to the proposed ‘academisation’ which are actually rather too deep and complex to explain to you all at this moment and that’s not the purpose of this meeting, so what I’m here to tell you, I’m basically, as I expect some of you might know, I’m campaigning against ‘academisation’ - well, before I say ‘academisation’ I just want to make a little note - this is a place of education where people learn English, where people learn to speak and to become people in the adult, in the real world. In my opinion the meaning of words is very very important. When you start tinkering with the meaning of words you’re tinkering with culture with the language, things like that. The word ‘academy’ means a very specific thing. What’s being discussed here is not ‘academies’, OK? The word ‘academy’, if you look in your dictionary, means ‘a school of specialised study’, OK? For example a police academy, a military academy a science academy. So, when you take the word ‘academy’ and use it in the context that we’re having here that’s a falsification of English. That’s, actually in the dictionary that’s called ‘bastardisation’ of the language, OK? So the first point, this entire debate is founded on a deception, OK, because we’re not talking about academies we’re talking about a fundamental change to the education system which has taken the label ‘academy’ because that word pushes a, er, a button. It’s a cultural word, it goes back to Greece, it goes back to Socrates, Plato - well it goes back to Plato actually - Plato was taught by Socrates - he taught Aristotle, he taught Alexander the Great. So if we’re going to talk about ‘academies’ we have to be on that kind of level - but it’s a false use of the word, so right away… anyway, that’s a linguistic detail, I know people aren’t interested in language - perhaps.My purpose, what I want to say to you basically is I’m actively campaigning against ‘academisation’ (so called) for a number of deep and complex reasons which I’m very happy to explain to you if anybody would care to meet with me, perhaps in an ongoing series of public meetings, perhaps chaired by a neutral chair, perhaps designed by the public. So you know, basically I’ve been in written communication with Chris and Nigel and I’ve addressed all the governors and I’m attempting to, er, from the beginning I’ve- you know, my message has been ‘I’d like to talk to people and try to have a civilized debate with people.’ I have to say the response so far has been very disappointing and basically sort of… you know, I’ve spent a lot of time writing to politicians and I kinda know the style, you know? Um, so, ya know, basically the other point I’d like to make is, this thing has been in the pipeline, it’s been, er, at various levels of preparation for four to five years and the community, parents and the public had approximately six months in which to, er, react to it, including in which to make a challenge to it. If they feel, like I happen to feel, that, er, the whole ‘academisation’ agenda is a disaster to education. It’s something - we don’t have, you know, time in this meeting to go into it, but it’s something I believe, well, it’s obviously a, you know, a political agenda, it’s coming from the right, it’s global - it’s not just Mousehole - it’s America, Europe, no doubt it’s the far east as well - it’s the modern World so it’s local, it’s also global. My personal opinion is that it’s disastrous, it’s been presented to us as if - well we’ve been handed this ‘thing’ with ‘here it is everybody, aren’t you glad?’ What if we’re not glad - what if I’m not the only- you know, I know there’s other people in this nation who aren’t happy with the ‘academy’ agenda and basically we’ve been- you know - you’ve had four years to prepare - we’ve got six months to mount a democratic challenge, if you like, a legal challenge, whatever means, you know, whatever peaceful, legal means we choose to resist this which is basically an imposition, somebody’s idea of policy - it’s not everybody’s idea of policy and I don’t think it should be imposed on this, or any other school, until it is proven that it is basically what the public want and I don’t think anyone here can prove that. And basically, as I say, you know, I don’t wanna- I’ve said I don’t want to dominate the meeting, I don’t want to take more than my share of time, but I’m very interested to talk to anyone who is against ‘academisation’ and I want to resist it whole-heartedly in a fair, in an open democratic way. All my communications with Chris are on the internet, Save The Holy Headland Blogspot, er, Mousehole School Preservation Society. You can find all my letters, all the responses and lots of other little related details. So if you’re against ‘academisation’ please talk to me - thank you."
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