Monday, August 11, 2008

The Effect of an Intrusive State

There's a letter in last week's DER SPIEGEL which should give us pause for thought...

Sir, At the end of August I'm leaving London because I don't wish my child to be forced into the kind of conformity where not only are school uniforms obligatory but even haircuts are regulated. That's to say nothing of the ever present CCTV in schools or of the fact that even primary school kids have to give fingerprints.

Mirko Fischer

Draw your own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

My conclusion ?

New Labour = fascism

Anonymous said...

Yippee! This will help house prices fall... I know that isn't your main point, Iain, but I know a few foreigners who are leaving London for a variety of reasons, mainly economic, and I couldn't be happier. A few more and I might be able to afford a studio flat in Penge.

Anonymous said...

Liebour = Enemy of the People.

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty good to me - where do you find schools like that nowadays?

Anonymous said...

Good riddance I say. School uniforms and proper haircuts SHOULD be mandatory in all schools along with proper discipline.

What we don't want are lefty veggie eaters with this idea that kids have rights.

Kids should be seen and not heard.

Oh and how come these brain dead news reporters never ask the obvious question when they confront teenage scum on the streets who 'claim' they have nothing to do?

Haven't you got any homework to be getting on with?

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with keeping the sprogs in check.

If Herr Fischer has a problem with that then Auf Wiedersehen.

Anonymous said...

I have problems with the CCTV and the fingerprinting, but not with school uniforms and sensible haircuts.

Cue DK accusing me of being a fascistic authoritarian.

Anonymous said...

When I was at school (less than 15 years ago) school uniforms and proper haircuts were mandatory right up to and including the upper 6th. Absolutely the right thing in my mind; yet the impression I get is that fewer and fewer schools are fussed about this kind of basic discipline. That Mr Fischer has managed to find schools that care enough to enforce these, whilst considering them to be dictatorial rather than just good discipline, is more a reflection on his background than any flaws in the system.

Certainly I wouldn't be sending my children to any primary school that took pupils' fingerprints or watched over them with CCTV - hardly common practice though eh?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with simply opting out of the (crap) state education system?

Anonymous said...

With due respect, uniform and haircut regulations are nothing to do with the state (at least in the private sector, and so long as the 'Human Rights' brigade keep out of it). I'm all in favour of them since they create an atmosphere conducive to discipline and order. This character sounds like the kind of parent who believes that making their child do anything he doesn't feel like is 'crushing' the little darling's 'creativity' since he is, of course, a child prodigy.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, one of the teachers' unions states the blindingly obvious that children are bullied if they don't have the "right" brands of clothing.
School uniforms are one way to reduce this problem. I can't imagine kids picking on someone to the same extent because their identical-looking white shirt came from Asda rather than M&S.
I'm with him on the fingerprinting and CCTV though. I guess the CCTV has been forced on schools by over-anxious parents believing everything they read in the Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the sane people above. For every parent leaving the UK because schools are too authoritarian, I can think of ten who are leaving because many of them are discipline-free child-zoos.

Read the reality of education in the UK today, and tell me you wouldn't want CCTV for your children in the knife-heavy corridors. I would.

idle said...

Auf wiedersehen, boxhead.

Skool unifforms und herrkutz, as Martin says, are a sign that all is not yet lost. CCTV und fingerprints are a shame.

More of the former should mean less of the latter, in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of discipline.

Astro-Turf Lawnmower said...

I'd be annoyed if my kids' school DIDN'T mandate school uniform and appropriate haircuts.

That said, woe betide them if they ever tried to take fingerprints!

Anonymous said...

Martin @ 19.36:

You are clearly a man ahead of your time. You as children's minister:

No need for providing leisurely pursuits, homework should clearly be kids' idea of fun and development!

No need for kids to be brought up learning to express themselves constructively... they should be brought up as repressed individuals, seen and not heard!

As for children not having rights, are you joking? Are you actually joking?

What ignorant, Daily Mail infested kind of world are you living in?

Anonymous said...

Probably should be pointed out that, in Mr Fischer's defence, most German schools haven't been allowed to have uniforms since 1945 (apparently it's clothing that's the prime cause of fascism), so of course he'd find what the school's doing a little odd. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that apart from Britain it's only France and Bavaria in Europe who still have uniforms. And the European youth aren't anything like as loutish as ours...

Anonymous said...

Seems the irony is lost on most of your readers.

Any road, I'm not too bothered about our bog-standard primary education. My daughter is four and I'm happy enough to send her to the local primary. The problem will come when she's 11: will there be any bog-standard secondary schools left by then? Most of the secondary schools I know round here are already well below bog-standard. Maybe we'll follow Herr Fischer's example and move to Germany.

Anonymous said...

Why do I suspect you don't want us to 'draw 'our own conclusions' but rather you want to draw the same conclusion as you, that boohooZaN-EU LieBore is ruining this country and doing away with our human rights, when you know full well that uniform and perscribed hair goes back decades and is part of the traditional british way of life that many of your tory friends long for.


Ben Gray said...

Could Herr Fischer send me a prospectus?

Schools are not the place for liberty - they are the place for instilling the responsibility required to be citizens in a free society. That discipline is necessary to form the self-discipline required to stop liberty turning into licence.

It's called maturity.

JuliaM said...

"I have problems with the CCTV and the fingerprinting, but not with school uniforms and sensible haircuts."

Ditto. So long as the word 'sensible' really means 'sensible'...

Anonymous said...

.... and now they plan to abolish open inquests too.....but only for cases selected by the Government on security grounds of course.

We now have in place almost all the mechanisms of a police state and the arguments are exactly the same ones Hitler used in 1934 - 39 - these are public safety measures ...we need them to protect you from the enemy (bogeymen) within and without the Glorious Reich (then Jews now Muslim extremists)

Next will be the book burning and the need to perhaps postpone the general election on grounds of national security.

Victor, NW Kent said...


You have chosen a poor target. If any discipline remains in schools then it is to Labour's credit.

In reality, too little remains. There are simple and cogent reasons for uniformity in school clothing.

I see no possible reason to complain about a short hair policy. There are many positive ways in which kids can express themselves.

Roger Thornhill said...

To me the irony is the inability of the person to see the difference between school uniforms and CCTV/Fingerprinting.

The former is by the school, the latter is by the State.

HOWEVER, schools should not be forced to adopt or reject school uniforms ny the State. It should be the choice of the Head and the parents should then be free to decide.

Fact is parents are desperate to get their kids into schools with strict dress codes.

Anonymous said...

Hey teachers Leave them kids alone chorus of Pink floyd .
Where is the law that says poor children have to be educated in a school uniform ?
I can remember living on the poverty line 20 years ago no school uniform grant available.My child could not even have a day trip out to Brighton simply because I could not afford both.
I remember sitting up in bed knitting a red jumper for school ,I was brilliant at knitting, I took on orders to pay for the rest of the uniform. I have a photo of my son shining in his uniform on his first day.
The hardship of getting it together was a nightmare.
I was told by a 11 year old he was not allowed to wear gel for school in his hair.
This mentality is just crazy I can remember the free school off Scotland Rd Liverpool in the 1970's run by boffins from Oxford university.
The school drop outs all went on to be fine and done a lot more than their peers in mainstream over the road in state schools.I pleaded to go there however my parents said no.

Anonymous said...

troymolloy said...

"fewer and fewer schools are fussed about this kind of basic discipline"

Last I heard the policy on uniforms was a matter for the local education authority, not the (state) school.

Anonymous said...

I didn't renew my tv licence as I am moving home and wanted to try a period without tv.The tv licencing authority have bombarded me with letters (nasty ones) threatening to all but cut my b+ll+cks off.As I regard the BBC particularly as a Labourite mouth-piece it's nice to have a break but the extreme nastiness of 'their' response was even to me very surprising.

lilith said...

This is what would worry me if I had school age children

A catalogue for nonces.

Raedwald said...

Schools have a valuable covert curriculum around time discipline, obedience and the ability to perform repetitive work tasks. Uniforms and haircuts are a fairly benign component of this. CCTV and fingerprints are something else, but perhaps fitting for our modern age.

"Right, who threw that?"

"C'mon. If the culprit doesn't own up I'll keep you all in for detention"

"You can't do that Sir! European Convention on Human Rights. Cruel and Unusual punishment. Unlawful collective punishments. My mum said if I was held in unlawful detention she'll sue the governors."

"Right, have it your own way. We'll analyse the CCTV footage and I'll send this apple-core off for fingerprint and DNA tests."

Old Holborn said...

Wait till he gets back to Germany

Not allowed:

Running a bath in your own home after 10pm
Doing any work in your own garden between 12 noon and 3pm
Having a bonfire in your own garden
Washing your own car on your own drive anytime.

He'll love it there. I hated it.