An English school examinations board, AQA, has requested schools destroy the anthology they have sent to schools containing a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, “Education for Leisure”, after three complaints about the poem, two of them because it makes a reference to knife crime.
Naturally no one has the right to be on the schools’ syllabus and examinations boards have the right to change their mind (though they might have done that over the lengthy summer holidays before term started), but, really, only three complaints. To quote Lutterworth Grammar School’s invigilator, “I think it is absolutely horrendous – what sort of message is that to give to kids who are reading it as part of their GCSE syllabus?”
I’m sure students really appreciated being called “kids”. But the real point is what sort of message are the students getting when a poem gets withdrawn after three complaints?
Simple: adults don’t want you to read this. So what are those “kids” going to do? Read it. Pass it around. It’s forbidden, it’s a must-read. Trouble this, those “kids” are then denied the opportunity to discuss the issues under the guidance of a teacher and how smart a move is that?