Thursday, 6 April 2017

Hampstead School's "Ethos": A Big Red Lie

Like any "good" self-interested institution, Hampstead School, via its website, professes to have an "ethos", as fictional as it might be.

The first of Hampstead's aims is supposedly to "nurture independence and provide the right support enabling students to develop confidence and respect". It simply doesn't follow. The idea that a school led by a ham-fisted authoritarian and his cronies, who foist inane rule after inane rule upon students and teachers can ever "nurture" independence is simply absurd. Rather, it is crushed from students, in a process all too analogous to the mechanical separation of meat and bone. In refusing, by-and-large, to leave any room for student autonomy, Hampstead's management creates and maintains an environment where attempts made by teachers to grant and nurture genuine independence are often as successful as attempts to reanimate the dead. That is, not very. 

Hampstead's second "aim" is to "actively encourage our students to take responsibility for their own learning, recognising them as individuals with their own unique skills and talent". To even pretend that anything like that is encouraged by Hampstead's management, in all its imperiousness, is to be profoundly dishonest, and disgustingly so. This blog, for which a student was expelled, exists solely because we, the students, seek to take responsibility for our own learning. It is entirely at odds with claims that taking said responsibility is encouraged to expel a student for actually doing so.

Of course, beyond the propaganda, the ideal Hampstead student is slavish and unthinking, unwilling to and incapable of, challenging the many wrongs and sustained errors of the school. An ineffective school council, occupied by the navel gazing of those that comprise it, serves only to uphold the illusion that anything like a mainstream student voice exists, redirecting the righteous frustration and dissatisfaction of many at themselves, other students, and teachers, instead of the vile and morally bankrupt system that makes it so. The system that simultaneously forces students into uniforms, while asking that they celebrate (on the appropriate days, in the appropriate ways, such that it is pleasing to the perverted male gaze) their cultural dress. The system that perpetuates, as the legacy of initial "misbehavior", through an elaborate concoction of disciplinary actions, further misbehavior. The system that puts teachers on edge, and wastes their time to no end.

The reality of it is that we are nothing but cash cows. To be milked, poked and prodded into success in a series of perverted pageants: Celebration Evening, the annual Concerts, every exam we ever sit, the slew of poorly composed photographs that hit the London bus circuit every Autumn and so on to infinity. It's almost laughably sad to talk of being "unique" at Hampstead School. The school as an abstract institution is a production line. The pigs go off to market, and they will look and sound "multi-ethnic" as they do it.

Yet another supposed aim of the school is to "encourage our students to develop enquiring minds and to make the most of the many opportunities we offer in school for them to develop morally, spiritually, culturally and socially". The morality of the playground fight. The spirituality of award-worship. The culture of bunking, and the society of the disengaged. If that's what they had in mind, then sure. But if not, then it goes without saying that they are sorely mistaken. It is the fact that this blog is still blocked from the school computers that so clearly refutes any claim that inquiry and thought are encouraged. PSHCE lessons geared to smother dissent also smother thought. A headteacher who knows nothing of his teachers and nothing of his students is not equipped, by any means, to spearhead any sort of cultural or social development. Unless, that is, you take "cultural or social development" to refer to a spiral into subservience and mediocrity - culminating in a beige and pointless existence.  

DISCLAIMER: This is a critical article, and so is comprised of the opinions of the author.    

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