4 September 2008

Education for Leisure banned.

Censorship in the 21st century. We all know it exists, but when it occurs in our education systems we have to sit up and ask why.

In the mid-1980's Carol Ann Duffy wrote the poem Education for Leisure, twenty years later it has been removed from the GCSE syllabus in the United Kingdom, deemed inappropriate due to its references to knives.

The UK has had many knife-related crimes in recent years, specifically amongst young people, and many which have lead to deaths. The proliferation of street violence amongst adolescents is of course a major issue, but we must ask ourselves if literature is to blame for it. Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, thinks it is not. He is quoted in the Guardian today saying: "It's a pro-education, anti-violence poem written [when] there were rising social problems and crime. It was written as a plea for education. You can't say that it celebrates knife-crime. What it does is the opposite."

This is the problem, though, isn't it? Who decides what the meaning of a piece of creative literature really is? Is it the writer? The teacher? Or the student? Evidently, the Assessment and Qualification Alliance (AQA) think they decide. But perhaps we may be better off in the long run if, for once, faith was put in students to make up their own minds as to what they think of literature.

Nevertheless, the question remains: when does the line of protection end and the line of censorship begin?

To read the poem visit Sumption.org.


Blogger Kimberley said...

This is a really good point. Creeping censorship is reaching epidemic proportions in the western world. The big question is: 'Who decides?', but another one is, 'Why aren't we doing something real about the problems of teenage violence instead of worrying about what poems these kids read?' Education should be about learning to challenge the status quo.

05 September, 2008 01:43  

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