Industrialised Education

My secondary school has recently instilled a crackdown on the uniform policy, provoking a lot of unrest amongst the students throughout the year groups. As someone who takes pride in individuality, believing that allowing young people to express themselves is a core ingredient to a better quality of life, the clone-like, oppressive and unnecessary enforcement of such uniform rules has really hit home. In conjunction with this, it is clear that the UK’s approach to education is invariably industrialised and archaic, instilling hierarchy and authority, with the absence of creativity and individuality.

Our current education system was designed during the industrial revolution, ignoring the concept of uniqueness. Uniform is a form of oppression. It is enforced to differentiate between those obeying and those to be obeyed. Therefore, a strict uniform policy that is currently being forced upon students in my school, is inadvertently instilling the extreme right wing notion of permanent hierarchy. The senior staff at my school retaliated saying that uniform ‘promotes equality’, which made me chuckle. Yes, there is physical quality between students through looking the same, but what about spiritual equality? Surely giving students the equal ability to express themselves and portray themselves in a way which they are most content with, promotes freedom. Moreover, I can speak on behalf of many, that by being able to express myself and feel unique, I am a more effective learner, more willing to obey authority that allows me the freedom to be myself and instils a generally more accepting and diverse atmosphere. The argument to suggest that uniform creates an absence of bullying based on materialistic wealth is frankly hypocritical. Through a normalisation of clone-like synchronisation, it is creating a more divisive attitude towards various faiths, styles, cultures and interests, due to the absence of familiarisation and acceptance. This is inherently industrialized. Schools are fizzling out every aspect of individuality of our students, diminishing the creativity and imagination essential to success.

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Industrialistion endeavours to specifically produce obedient workers; the training to obey authority and follow instructions is deeply engrained in schools today. Linking to Illich’s de-schooling theory, the monotonous structure of examinations, lecturing and a consensus level of progress to follow is designed to determine success through one vehicle, making anyone who does not suit this style of testing, a failure. The industrial age of factory workers based success on the ability to follow instructions, however, in today’s society, success quintessentially derives from the ability to be creative and different. The memory-based inauthenticity of the education process is superfluous, examining students on their ability to retain information, which is inevitably forgotten imminently after the exam is finished. The skills of creativity and innovation are barely associated with one’s ability to memorise the equation of momentum of a moving object (or whatever useless information I had to engrain into my brain during Physics GCSE), meaning students are being stressed and tested on things that literally do not matter to their desired career path.

The lack of autonomy advocated by schools is failing to prepare our students for adulthood. Every aspect of a student’s life is controlled by the school. In the real world, people need to effectively manage their own time to suit individual needs, which inevitably differ between all individuals. The generalisation of a year group as a whole fails to suit all students, which is why a class can contain a huge variety of academic progress and achievement. Being in year 13, my school allows us to have Wednesdays off school. However, for some students this privilege has been taken away, due to an ‘inadequacy’ of grades and progress. It is extremely oppressive and unjust to give certain students this advantage and not others, purely based on academic success, when it is the school system itself that disables certain students to progress as quickly as others. This meritocratic approach to scholastic achievement is extremely harmful to students’ self-esteem, as well as disabling a true representation of the adult world. By instilling the idea that success comes from following orders and not from critical thinking or imagination, our archaic education system is failing us.

To conclude, it is clear that the only way our education system can be saved is through intensive reform, ensuring creativity is measured and valued as much as academic achievement. The infrastructure of our schools is built on industrialisation and meritocratic order-taking that merely hinders the independency of our students.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

Artist of the Week: Saffy Paget

“I started photography because my dad is a photographer for some massive brands and I wanted something I could bond with him over . He lent me a camera and I took a few snaps and realised this is something that I really want to do.”

Saffy Paget is 17 years old and a photographer and videographer from Cambridge. She is now a content creator for a brand created by Vodafone, VOXI, as well as a photographer for modelling agency ‘Milk’.

“I only started doing art a few years ago and it’s just exploded for me from there ; I just want people to see and appreciate my work”

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She also comments how her supportive friends, who buy her zines and give her feedback, is a huge help in moving forward.

“I’m currently applying to study fashion photography at UAL, and then I’m hoping to move on and be a photographer for magazines like Dazed or iD, that’s the dream really.”

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Saffy’s zine is available on the link below!

www.fuckquick.bigcartel.com

 

Gordon Brown: A Life in Politics

Gordon Brown’s A Life in Politics lecture at the LSE was as compelling as it was insightful, as the charismatic ex-Prime Minister took attendees on a journey of his political career. His talk opened with a humorous anecdote unveiling his first experience of the LSE was having £50 stolen from his jacket in the university library, following an overview of issues he encountered during his time in politics, whilst also offering his view of current affairs.

His talk began with a focus on leadership and what it means to be an effective leader. He solidifies this by saying the most important factor of leadership is a “clear and hopeful vision of the future, compelling enough to persuade people.” He then went on to apply this to the South-African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela; his equal treatment of everyone, including his greeting to the Queen during one phone call as “hello, Elizabeth”, gave him a cohesive vision that enabled his political career to be so successful. When applying Brown’s own theory of leadership to his role as Labour Prime Minister, it is questionable that his governance serves as highly as his sense of humour. It is hard to ignore the illegitimacy of Brown’s role, as he inherited his position from Blair in 2007 and opinion polls for the Labour Party plummeted during the 2008 recession. Moreover, it is hard to decipher what Brown’s “clear and hopeful vision of the future” actually was. Although the ex- Prime Minister supported a range of legislation, he is not known for any iconic implementation or movement during his leadership; in conjunction with this, one can argue that Brown’s time as chancellor was more successful for him than his time as Prime Minister. However, his dealing with the recession meant that Brown was so consumed with domestic economic policy that it was difficult to produce revolutionary legislation. Leadership also goes hand in hand with public image; Brown was never known for his charisma, despite this shining through in his talk at the LSE. Opinion polls of Brown were generally negative throughout his governance, not to mention his faux pas with Gillian Duffy calling her ‘bigoted’. Following such a popular figurehead as Tony Blair was always going to be a challenge, but it is clear that Brown’s leadership skills do not adhere to his definition.

During his time as chancellor, Brown played a key role in some of Labour’s most praised pieces of legislation, including the minimum wage. The 2008 financial crisis also flaunted Brown’s ability to deal with economic decline, organising the G20 meetings in 2009, as well as naming tax havens and a 5% target for ‘go for growth’ inflation. However, Brown admits he “failed to convince the people to run a deficit”, provoking the highest rate of unemployment in 2011 after his leadership. Through this, we can see Brown’s prime focus in his career was economic policy, largely as a consequence of the recession.

The socialist ideological tenet of cooperation proved dear to Brown’s heart as he applied it to many political concepts. As well as his stress of popular sovereignty, Brown proposes the need for “global solutions to global problems” as “national prosperity relies on international cooperation.” In so many words, the ex-Prime Minister associates the failure to tackle issues like pollution and inequality as a lack of cohesion on an international scale. The compelling example of Trump’s economic policies was utilised by Brown to suggest that the slashing of imports in order to obtain a more nationalist approach to US politics, consequentially diminishes exports due to a lack of international cooperation. This is evidence that cooperation is the prime resource to economic success on a national scale, proving why Brexit is ultimately more pain than its worth. The critique of neo-liberalism also shined through as Brown claimed “autonomy is impossible in an interdependent world”, and that Labour is “swimming against the tide of a neo-liberal government”, whom wrongly puts inflation before unemployment.

The finality of Browns visit to the LSE ceased with an anecdote about the novelist Anthony Burgess. After meeting the author at Edinburgh festival, Burgess told Brown of a 21st chapter in his phenomenal book ‘A Clockwork Orange’ whereby the protagonist, Alex DeLarge, repents for his sins and embellishes the author’s Catholic background. However, this chapter was erased by publishers and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation. Brown brings this narrative back with a claim that “we need a chapter 21”. The government need to iron out all issues like Brexit, Priti Patel’s secret Israeli meetings and the surge of sexual misconduct allegations circling the Commons, in order to redeem themselves.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

Artist of the Week: Dom Lord

“I respect realism in art, but I find it so boring; why not take a photograph instead? So for me, art is about getting stuck in and expressing yourself.”

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Dom is from Blackburn, Lancashire, and has recently started his third year doing Graphic and Communication Design student at the University of Leeds.

“Similar to a lot of my friends on the course, I’ve taken third year out to gain experience by interning at Graphic Design studios. I’m currently interning at a small studio close to home.”

Dom started doing art at an early age. Spending most of his time developing his style. Dom mainly focussed on two things; portraiture and album covers.

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“When it came to the end of college, I felt art just wasn’t enough for me. I had also studied Graphic Design for two years at College, at the end of the two years I finally realised I wanted to pursue Graphic Design, whilst implementing my own art and style.”

As Dom looks back on his college work, seeing how far he’s come in the past four years, he grows excited for the years to come, to see the development and improvement in his work.

To check out more of Dom’s work head to his website at http://www.djnl.co.uk

It’s Not Just Left-Wing

Many people generalise the political spectrum as a mere Left and Right, and give themselves a political diagnosis based on equally generalised archetypes of the two. In reality, it is a lot more complex than that; even political theorists sharing a Left-Wing vision have disputes. Knowledge of these denominations help one understand their political agenda in far better detail.

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On the extreme left of the spectrum we have Communism, the basis of which is the oppression of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie. Karl Marx and his ‘Communist Manifesto’ is the general image of radical left politics, with his belief in a possibly violent revolution in order to overthrow a Capitalist system.  The intolerance of Capitalism is the shared idea of far left theorists. Marx also endeavoured to achieve utter democracy through complete nationalisation of industry and the eventual abolition of money. This essentially depicts the far left’s agenda as absolute rule of the people in a socio-economic setting, ridding society of the toxic nature of exploitation from the Bourgeoisie.

Other theorists who adopted Marx’s ideas include Lenin, Stalin and Mao. These figures followed the revolutionary aspects of Marx’s teaching with slight alterations. Lenin adopted Marx’s ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ idea (whereby the working class seize the means of production and re-educate the Capitalists) and implemented Vanguardism into his ideology. This essentially discusses how in order for Communism to be achieved, someone needs to lead the working class revolution, acting as a Vanguard to spur it on. However, it can be argued that Leninism is slightly less radical that Marxism, due to his ‘New Economic Policy’ whereby some industries are privatised after a successful revolution. Similarly, Mao agreed with Marx on the majority of his policies, whilst also believing that a Communist revolution could be achieved in a feudal society, and that the overthrow of Capitalism was not a necessary factor. Stalinism provides an alternative far left idea, with the complete belief in a violent revolution and a specific focus on a centralized economy. Therefore, whilst all share a far left basis, it is clear that this is split between various means of achieving similar ends.

This idea of split ideologies is also present in central-left views. Democratic Socialism is the predominant ideology in Venezuelan politics, exercised through the rule of Chavez and Muduro. Although Democratic Socialists do not endeavour to achieve a communist society, the shared implementation of large scale nationalisation deems Democratic Socialism the middle of the left spectrum. Where they differ from Communist ideas is through the belief in social welfare instead of simply a stateless, classless society, and also the idea of gradualism whereby society permeates socialist ideas to eventually reform, rather than a revolution. This is in support of Socialism’s ‘equality of outcome’, meaning aid is given to those poorer in society, in order to achieve an equal product of wealth distribution. Economists argue that Democratic Socialism is only achievable in an economically strong country, due to the immense government funding required to finance nationalised industries and social welfare. This produces a valid explanation why Venezuela still experiences mass poverty today; it is not a fault in the ideology but an inadequate economic structure.

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Despite its stupidly similar name, Social Democrats provide an alternative centre-left ideology. It is argued that every Western country has a Social Democrat party, the UK’s being Labour, due to their more centralist ideas compared to other Left Wing factions. Social Democrats advocate a mixed economy, with some main industries nationalised and governmentally owned, whilst others are privatised to invoke competition. This resolves the argument regarding the poor quality of goods and services from nationalised industries, as companies feel obliged to obtain customers and avoid them reverting to competitors. However, Social Democrats share ideas with other Left Wing thinkers; a belief in social justice and an extensive welfare state proves their prime focus on aiding the working class, a trait shared across the scale of Left Wing ideas. Similar to Marxism, Social Democrats believe in the inevitability of Capitalism’s failure, and it being the root cause to unemployment.

blairThe most centralist, and frequently argued Right Wing influenced ideas of Tony Blair and the Third Way can be seen to stray away from Socialism’s tenets more than any other ideology. Whilst Communism is built on the idea that there is a natural conflict between the Proletariat and Bourgeoisie, Blair offers a consensus class view. A knowledge economy replaces the belief in nationalisation, advocating knowledge as the prime resource, consequently increasing competition. Despite the Third Way straying far from Socialist ideals, it is technically still Left Wing, despite Blair not being a socialist- but that’s a whole other article.

I have in no way touched upon the broad scope of ideologies within the Left Wing spectrum, but offer a flavour of the variants, from radical to tempered. It is important to know where you stand specifically in terms of your views, and not to generalise the scale as a mere Left or Right process.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

What is Frankenstein Even About?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is up for public debate. Following the death of Shelley’s mother, feminist legend Mary Wollstoncraft, it is valid to say her novel is largely motivated by this event. Moreover, the deeply psychological and religious motivations within the text help shape our view of the novel’s main characters, especially Victor. Whether it be an exploration into parenthood, death or lamentation, Frankenstein is a novel that has instilled great debate in my mind and the wider world of literature.

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The absence of a maternal figure has left Shelley questioning what motherhood entails. Exacerbated by her several miscarriages, the disassociation with maternal feelings seems to surge through Frankenstein. Victor mirrors a birthing scene as he animated his monster in his lab, portrayed in Kenneth Branagh’s adaption with a womb- like ambiance. This shows Shelley exploring the science of motherhood, with the awkwardness and consequent neglect a result of Shelley’s own feeling of disconnection from both a mother and child. Therefore, the entirety of Shelley’s novel can be seen to be an exploration into what it is to be a parent, and Victor’s subsequent failure at this through abandonment and lack of nurture. This is supported by Frankenstein and his monster’s poignant goodbye towards the end of the novel, whereby, despite their conflicting hate and vengeance towards each other throughout the novel, there is an essence of love and lament. This reflects the unconditional familial love one feels towards their child or parent, drawing a conclusion to Shelley’s question regarding what it means to be a mother.

A modern reader could diagnose the novel’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, with an assortment of mental health problems. His depressive state continues throughout the text, with contemplations of suicide and extreme isolation. The juxtaposition of these depressive states with those of jubilance also suggests the chance Victor suffers from Bipolar disorder; in his periods of mania and depression, Victor channels pathetic fallacy to mirror his state of mind. This is supported by his flouncy attitude to his love interest, Elizabeth Lavenza and the jump from extreme motivation to animate his creation, to utter seclusion from mankind and his love of science. The underlying mental health references are possibly a reflection of the anachronistic taboo attitude to mental issues, where someone would simply be committed to a mental asylum; could this be the authority-critical voice of her anarchist father William Godwin shining through?

In conjunction with the psychoanalytical debate, Frankenstein’s monster can be seen to be a mental concoction of his id or a possible dissociative personality disorder.  The whole ‘animation’ scene could be perceived as a spiritual awakening of Victor’s repressed violence, explaining the deep connection Victor seems to have with the monster’s actions. Alike gothic phenomena ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde‘ the theme of doppelgangers and doubles are extremely common in Gothic literature of the period, mixing horror and terror with psychological and physical discomfort.

Shelley’s involvement with the Free Love movement suggests that there must be some essence of homoeroticism somewhere in her one and only novel. The relationship between Victor and Clerval is questioned to be more than good friends like a contextual reading would interpret it; their close relationship and Victor’s reliance and acceptance of his company within his deep feelings pf desolation, may depict a kind of homoerotic relationship between the two. This is enhanced by Victor’s seeming disinterest in marrying Elizabeth, and his more intense reaction to Clerval’s murder than his bride-to-be.

In reality, we will never actually know what Frankenstein’s moral is, or what Shelley’s intentions were when writing her masterpiece. The ambiguity in so many fields truly creates a mysterious air around the text, leaving us as the reader bemused and questioning; that is the true nature of literature.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

Alex DeLarge: a Tragic Villain

The dystopian, ultra- violent world Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ has created withstands his legacy as a novelist. The contextual flavours and stylised use of historical and societal concepts is beautifully embellished by Kubrick’s film adaptation of the book, whereby the upturned version of British society is brought to life in moving picture. I have found it difficult to determine whether I prefer the film or novel of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, provoking me to come to the conclusion that I have ultimately fallen in love with the story.

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The dichotomy of a charming and nonchalant protagonist, Alex DeLarge, amongst a world of corruption, violence and rape creates the feeling of discomfort and insecurity as the reader ponders as to whether they even like the persona of the book. This is further enhanced when Alex is a subject of the ‘Ludovico Technique’ after he is charged with murder. The confusion instilled in the reader presents the conflict between sympathy and justification for the torture inflicted upon Alex, therefore challenging the reader’s perception of the main character and his motives. Kubrick embodies Burgess’ sense of audience sympathy and justification through Alex’s initial self-aggrandisement to his vulnerability in the end of the film. It can be seen as an attack on youth culture through the manipulation of audience sympathy; using Alex’s youth as a justification for his violent acts and abusing his vulnerable portrayal to make the audience forget why he is being tortured in the first place. This manipulation is ultimately due to Burgess’ writing and the creation of a story where the victor becomes the victim by his own accord, and embodies the literary tragic villain.

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The use of ‘the old ultra-violence’ in a very visual, graphic sense encapsulates the reader by shocking them into the reality of this British dystopia. The gruesome descriptions of Alex and his droogs’ violent acts, and the vivid rape and torture in Kubrick’s film, forces the audience to become comfortable with it and therefore lulls them into immersing themselves in what society would be like tolerating ultra-violence. Having been written in the 1960s, I can be said that Burgess’ aim when incorporating ultra- violence was to foreshadow how society would degrade with the swinging 60s liberal revolution, enthused by his Catholic background. This is supported by the influence of London’s ‘Teddy Boys’ in the creation of Alex’s ‘droogs’, suggesting that societal violence will increase with growing liberalism. Juxtaposing the use of serious, harmful violence with the created language of ‘Nadsat’ mutes its atrocity and restores the sense of normality when one compares it to the use of Cockney in London. This also adds to Alex’s charm and makes the reader excuse his evil actions. Kubrick interprets the violence in Burgess’ novel perfectly with no censorship or sugar coating, instilling that shock and discomfort that set the atonal thrill and intrigue ‘A Clockwork Orange’ creates.

The chilling tone shadowing the events throughout the novel is ultimately inflicted by the irreconcilable identification of a villain. Although Alex’s transgression is formidable, it can be argued that he is simply fulfilling an overbearing addiction, and is in some sense a victim. Similarly, the doctors involved with the Ludovico technique are presented through Alex’s eyes as torturous and evil, but perhaps they genuinely feel like they are curing Alex or are the book’s heroes by giving him his just desserts. These question remain unanswered, which in my eyes is the beauty of Burgess’ novel and the unique affect it has.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

Artist of the Week: Luan Barber-Norton

“Hmmmm a paragraph about me? I am luan. I’m 19 goin on 9.  I am an illustrator.

luan 5Luan studied interactive media at bury college , where she tried different art styles such as photography, film, graphic design and, in the last year, finally started to experiment with illustration.luan 4

Gemma Correll was a huge inspiration for Luan in her college years because it is important to Luan to incorporate humour into her illustrations.

“I just want people to look at my illustrations and feel a bit better”

Luan now studies at DMU in Leicester and came out with a first after year one.  Uni has really helped Luan develop her style and skills.

“On the first day of uni I turned up with one fine liner and a pencil, having no clue what the fuck to do and only knowing how to draw funny cartoons.”

Towards the start of university Luan became more and more interested in Frances Cannon.

Luan also designed and drew the logo for Cult Clash!

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“Her and her art have given me a lot more confidence within myself and my art work. From the 2 years studying illustration I’ve discovered making people feel better about themselves is what I want to do. I want people to feel good when they look at my art. And that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my illustrator life.
Thanks for listening *drops mic*.”

Artist of the Week: Shannon Pinnell

“At first, I had no plan as to what aspect of youth culture I wanted to focus on, I just took my camera out with me and shot anything.”

 

Shannon Pinnell is a photographer from Bedford, England. ‘Growing Pains’ is a photography series based on youth culture and friendships formed during our teenage years.

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When I looked back at all of my images, there were way over 100 photos so I kind of just put them all into separate groups and this group was the one that stood out the most.”

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Friendship and closeness stands out straight away. Whilst being candid, those in the photos seem completely open around each other, even in shots there are people just by themselves in the frame; the photographer is still there on the other side of the camera who they have some sort of relationship with.

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“I arranged the photos so gradually it gets darker, people get closer and people become more intoxicated even to the point where the camera itself doesn’t actually work properly anymore.”

 

Shannon is inspired by artists such as Chloe Sheppard, Richard Billingham, Cindy Sherman, Corrine Day and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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Shannon is currently at her second year of Bedford College studying photography and hopes to go on to UWE in Bristol next year to study fashion communications.