Thursday, 16 July 2009

Authors' revolt

Databases can be a thing of beauty and are good for you. OR, databases can lower the quality of children's education and invite ridicule. Which statement is true?

At 'progressive' schools this might be a topic for a creative writing competition; with the winner presented with the prize at a special occasion during which a well known author visits the school. Perhaps not any more.

A wide cross selection of newspapers and media: Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail, BBC and Independent are reporting on a protest by authors. As the Independent says – 'Authors boycott schools over sex-offender register'

As might might be expected the authors put their case both eloquently and elegantly. The logic behind their comments is irrefutable too. So far those to complain are: Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo. It is easy to imagine that the list could grow as the tradition among the various arts' communities is one of solidarity and mutual support.

Quote from Pullman - "This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist."

While Fine said the scheme was "governmental idiocy" which would drive a wedge between children and adults.

Ed Balls is the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, you might like to write to him (there is no prize) and tell him what you think!

Footnote -
The ISA database will hold details of over 11 million people who have contact with children or vulnerable adults. Each person or author will be subject to continuous monitoring. The database will check all entries against any new information from police or other sources.

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