Thursday, December 15, 2011

Or how to feminise the curriculum by mounting a war on Xmas ...

(Above: Tom Tomorrow trying to be sensible, foolish Tom Tomorrow).

Not having the spondulicks - what a fine word that is, the pond must pay it a little overtime - for the bloated opinions that are daily paraded in the paywall guarding The Australian - yes for the moment an email address and other details counts as spondulicks - the pond occasionally steps into the gutter otherwise known to the world as the Daily Terror.

Come on down Miranda the Devine, what ails you in Girls' HSC results a lesson for boys?

Twenty years ago, when boys outclassed girls in their Year 12 exams, a hue and cry led to some feminising of the curriculum. But the pendulum has swung too far.

They've feminised maths and science? Quadratic equations can now only be resolved by advanced feminist thinking, and perhaps a reference Naomi Wolf and The Beauty Myth? Atoms must couple in an ideologically correct feminist way, and bosons and quarks and the god particle, when or if it's confirmed, will reveal that She's responsible for the universe, pain, love, hate and the whole damn thing?

Or is this just another example of word abuse by the Devine? Will she explain?

Well it seems that feminising of the curriculum is not what she meant at all:

Principals have long suspected a mindset among education bureaucrats and academics, the majority of whom are women of the leftist persuasion, that boys have had it "too good for too long". If we are serious about equity, we need to redress the balance, instead of wasting a generation of boys as some sort of get-square for perceived past injustice.

Foolish leftist females, it's all their fault. Which will be a great relief for those who once imagined it was all the fault of screen culture, the domain of young males:

Developing friendships on social networking sites means you miss the subtle skills essential for real-life friendship. You may avoid real people and become like the Japanese hikikomori, the 1 million young men who have withdrawn from society to their bedrooms to play computer games by themselves.

And what happens when you let these young males out of their rooms after they've stopped playing with themselves?

The bankers, brokers and traders, mostly young and male, whose impulsive decision-making and poor judgments fuelled the collapse of financial markets last year, may very well have possessed a version of a newly evolved human brain, physically changed by prolonged time in front of computer screens. (We're losing our minds over technology, warning forced video at other end of link).

Yep, single handedly, Miranda the Devine and Susan Greenfield conspire together to prove conclusively that women are dumber than men.

But it's the silly season, so let's get even sillier than the Devine, and admire the way that the Daily Terror has - in a bid to secure ratings and sales like its Fox News close kissing cousin - imported the war on Xmas.

Xmas? Is the pond conducting a war on Christ by leaving him out? Not really. The first known use of the Xmas shortening came in 1551 - so Websters and the Xmas wiki tells me - and X is a symbol for Christ, from the Greek letter chi (X), initial of Christos.

The same thing happens when people get agitated about happy holidays, forgetting that not so long ago we'd have been talking about holydays or hāligdæg, from hālig holy + dæg day (a little Old English for the day, better than bran). Take it away Milton:

When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocond rebecks sound
To many a youth, and many a maid,
Dancing in the chequer'd shade;
And young and old com forth to play
On a sunshine holyday,
Till the live-long daylight fail;
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale ... (the rest here in a large pdf)

Spicy nut-brown ale on a holyday? How did Milton know about the land down under?

But soft, we've clean forgot about the Daily Terror getting agitated about the perfidious doings of the basket-weaving Montessori school at Balmain, as explained in the lengthy header PC police strike Christmas at Inner Sydney Montessori School - 'Merry Christmas' replaced with 'Happy Holidays'.

Would it be wrong to point out that Daily Terror knuckleheads could have worded that header PC police strike Xmas at Inner Sydney Montessori School - 'Merry Xmas' replaced with 'Happy Holydays'? And still been truly Xian?

The story was attributed to 'one angry parent' who apparently felt so strongly about the whole shocking inclusiveness of the school and its political correctness, he intended to withdraw his daughter from the place the next year.

Which makes you wonder what form of acid he was dropping when he enrolled the child, apparently without the first clue as to the way Montessori schools go about their business. Here it is in their Q and A:

Montessori is a secular education system, exactly like the public education sector. This means that no particular religion is taught as part of the curriculum, but that all religions, and all peoples are respected. Respect is a key component in a Montessori classroom - respect for the child, respect for the environment, respect for others and respect for oneself.

Religion is looked at from a cultural and sociological point of view. Children are invited to explore the cultures throughout the world and can see that there are many different religions.

Many Montessori schools celebrate holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukah, and Chinese New Year, which are religious in origin, but they are experienced on a cultural level as special days of family feasting, merriment, and wonder.

Couldn't be clearer really could it, much like the rest of the blather in the Montessori approach to education. (Yes, I've had personal contact with the Montessori system, but the child went elsewhere not because of any nonsense about holydays and Xmas).

Naturally the epically blonde network Ten news presenter Tracey Spicer jumped into the fray - perhaps there's a place at Fox News for her down the track - fulminating in both the Terror and that spicy brown ale drunk The Punch about Hammering the final nails in the coffin of Christmas.

As always with this kind of rhetorical babble, the first thing to do is to ignore the way Christmas in Australia is a reflection of pagan festivals first developed around the winter solstice, turned summer solstice down under:

Memo Montessori: It's all about a baby born around, ooh, 2000 years ago. Christians, who incidentally make up 64 per cent of the population, reckon he's the son of God. You know that fat bloke in the red? Well, it ain't all about the presents.

Actually Ms Spicer, it's all about Saturnalia, which kicked off around 217 BC, and y0u can keep your imperial Xian ambitions to yourself.

But at least you seem to have the grace to acknowledge that before Santa and St Nicholas, came the mighty Odin with most excellent pagan gifts.

Never mind, if you want convoluted logic, Spicer's the spicy brown ale for you:

Supporters say it's an "inclusive" response to an increasingly non-Christian population. But there's nothing "inclusive" about the way it's being interpreted by teachers at Montessori.

They are excluding the vast majority of Australians.

By choosing a consumerist term like Happy Holidays, they're playing into the hands of the religious right who believe there's a war on Christmas being waged by atheists. Since the start of the new millennium, radio ranters in the US have been battling those who are "taking the Christ out of Christmas".

It's a bunch of basket weavers in Balmain!! What on earth does it have to do with the vast majority of Australians?

It seems Spicer is in despair regarding the battle between militant atheists, militant Christians and militant cliches:

Fortunately the tide is turning in the US.

Department stores such as Macy's have excommunicated the phrase Happy Holidays, while in Boston the mayor has replaced the infamous holiday tree with a regular Christmas tree.

What, you mean with a decent pagan yule tree?

Here's the thing. In an alleged democracy, people can go about the business of celebrating Xmas as they chose, and without all the familiar overblown rhetoric about the thought police, and militant atheists, and grinches and Ebenezer Scrooges, and hyped up rhetorical nonsense from the world of Fox News, as misinterpreted by the cliche-laden Spicer rhetoric.

If Montessori schools want to go about the business of festivals and holydays as a cultural experience, that's up to them. And if they want to excise bits, that's also up to them. And if parents want to excise their children from Montessori schools, that's also up to them.

Catholic schools do it every day of the week, and until they make a tactical error like refusing to accept the child of a couple of lesbians, no one notices or cares, and the indulgent taxpayers keep shoving money down their throats so they can go about the business of education as religious propaganda.

It turns out that in her presentation of what Xmas means Spicer does her own bit of excising:

Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men, a drink with mates, a seafood barbie, and kids singing your favourite carols out-of-key.

No mention of Christ, but Frosty the snow man is okay?

Of course it would be a different matter if the secularists were to storm the barricades and demand that Catholic and Protestant schools include Kwanzaa, Chanukah and other winter solstice celebrations in their activities. That would be political correctness thought policing gone mad.

But why can't a bunch of secularists go about schooling in their own way without the media thought police scolding them as if they're a bunch of naughty children?

The worst thing about lickspittle atheists who think that fellow travelling with Xians and with the majority and badgering hapless basket-weaving hippies at Montessori is the sheer naked brutality of the media power being exercised.

In the grand scheme of things what does it matter what happens in Balmain? What does it matter if some say happy holydays and others Merry Xmas?

You can bet one thing, the ones hammering the final nails in the coffin of Xmas, and goodwill and generosity, are the ones blathering about political correctness and the thought police, while in the process displaying their own concepts of what is politically correct and what requires thought policing. As if traditions are permanent and never change. As if saturnalia could never morph into Santa Claus ...

Come to think of it, the pond could whip up a nice comparative anthropological study for Montessori, but sadly this would likely be interpreted as feminising the curriculum ...


  1. What is the most important thing about this time of year for school students? The holidays are here! So what are these stupid people doing trying to take the holidays out of Xmas? Thank you Dorothy, and have a happy holyday.

  2. And happy holydays to you, though we should be careful to note that the twelve days of Xmas don't start until 25th December, and anyone talking of holydays before that date is most likely a progressive leftie liberal intent on undermining world order, introducing anarchy, and creating moral confusion and panic ...

  3. I can't stand 'happy holidays', but that's because it seems to me to be an awful Americanism. Like 'have a nice day'. Shudder. Both so shallow and meaningless, and how bland and empty is this insipid wish to be 'happy' all the bloody time? Particularly since we all know xmas week normally involves copious amounts of alcohol and that often ends badly.

    I think we always just called them the school holidays - and we went to church every Sunday and not just at the winter solstice (in summer) or the vernal equinox (in the autumnal). Something like 'seasons greetings' just doesn't fit outside of a cheap card, and i'd probably just say 'have a good break' if I was talking to someone who had leave coming up over summer (or any other time).

    "Merry Christmas" should be reserved for something you say to someone's face on the day itself, or with something specifically related to it such exchanging presents - and when did they start being called 'gifts'?

    I couldn't care less about Jesus H Christ being lost from the end of the year, but I don't feel comfortable with the change in Australian culture - which is mostly just an Americanisation of it because of the media saturation, but also extends to a greater focus on money and greed in general which the locals seem to be pretty good at doing themselves.

  4. No offence NotZed, but I think you missed the point, as we Chaucerian pilgrims wished each other happy holydays as the break begins and ...

    Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
    And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
    To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
    And specially, from every shires ende

    And speaking of shire's end, I'll be off to Melbourne.

    As for the rest, can I suggest a post-ironic reflexiveness is always handy. When someone says to you "Have a nice day" (especially if behind a counter), then a snappy "And you come on back now, ya hear" will produce exciting results ...


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