Friday, November 30, 2007

contact point questions

questions to those who aren't signing the petition:

Do you think your children have the same right to privacy as you do? (I am assuming that most of you are as furious as me at the State bureaucracy posting your bank details to gawd knows where)

Are you anxious about the potential for violent ex's to trace their ex-families through such a database? (I am assuming that security will not be fail safe. There are simply too many people who will have access to the database for it to be secure)

If this database was applied to adults (full name, DoB, address, work place, previous employment, salary, any contact with any state agencies, including health care, counselling, maybe arrests (whether or not charges were brought), social services), would you feel comfortable?

You may be happy with your 6 year old being monitored in this way. How do you think your 18-year old is going to feel? Any differently from a 19-year old who is supposedly beyond the age to be included? And yet, do you think the government will simply delete them from the database when they reach 19? How would you feel about being on such a government database as an adult?

ContactPoint database

The internetz are full of British outrage about the loss of personal information in the child tax credit data loss scandal. how dare they? thunder all the Mumsnet and NetMums mums. The Conservative opposition is opening up a hiiiiuge lead in the opinion polls.

But the ContactPoint database, delayed rather than cancelled by the government in the light of the data loss scandal, isn't getting half the outrage. This petition still has less than a thousand signatures.

So many personal details will be on this database (name, DoB, address, school, GP, health visitor, any other professionals having contact with them)

I finally worked out why so few parents mind the prospect of their children having their information shared in this way. It is because people don't think of children as having a right to privacy. Those Netmums and Mumsnet sites are full of anecdotes about children, in extruciating personal detail, and that's why.

I would be interested to ask them, however: you may be happy with your 6 year old being monitored in this way. How is your 18-year old going to feel? And do you think the government will simply delete them from the database when they reach adulthood? How would you feel about being on a massive government database as an adult?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

was school necessary or conducive to my learning?

(from a post over at the frog pond)

not necessary.

one set of important things to me was languages, and i learned more by visiting friends in those countries and by being penpals between visits than I did in school. i finally have an understanding of grammar having taught myself Latin in adulthood (don't ask why. It was important to me as part of a creative project)

other important thing: maths. school maths sucked. I had private tuition with a friend of my parents, leading to a qualification beyond what school offered.

most important thing: music. school music was always a joke. I went to a private music centre on saturdays where i got both practical and theoretical training to a very high standard (i could have gone to a conservatoire at 18 if I'd chosen that route)

the sport i love(d) is/was swimming, and my school to 16 didn't even have a pool, so I had to flail around with hockey sticks rather than doing what i actually enjoyed. the closest i have got to a hockey stick since leaving school is playing ice hockey on frozen ponds using ice axes as sticks and a terry's chocolate orange as a puck. but i digress.

so... school was peripheral.

school friends - i am in good contact with two people from school. we have shared interests which have nothing to do with school. several of my closest childhood friends were not at school with me, including my very oldest friends who i have knwn since babyhood and was never at school with.

it was just such a waste of TIME, and the really exciting learning was happening elsewhere

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How bad just normal can be

On the bus today there were three mums with their children, all "nice middle class white well spoken". You get the picture - neat haircuts every one of them, and smart clothes.

Mums in the middle of the bus, chatting; two children at the front, the rest at the back.

Mum number 1 only engaged with her children when one told tales on another "Mum, Ben is standing up" "BEN!!!" (in warning tones, turns round and finds child is sitting down - tale bearer laughs a lot, and who can blame her. Mum is a fool).

Mum number 2 kept turning round and telling child (at other end of the bus) not to take things out of her bag because "they'll get left behind if we have to get off the bus in a hurry." Child said "I'm not taking them out, I've just opened the bag to look at them". Mum said "If they fall out, you aren't allowed to cry". Only other interaction of this mum and children was her telling them repeatedly not to use more than one crayon at a time, and then to put it away before getting the next one out. All at 90 decibels across acres of bus.

Mum number 3 was being horrible to her daughter. Daughter cried, mum didn't go to her. Daughter eventually went to mum. Daughter then headed back towards the back of the bus, bus started moving, mum caught daughter to sit her down - fair enough since the bus was lurching. The next exchange was weird. The mum kind of grimaced at daughter, daughter grimaced back, and then the mum gave her a right going over for looking at her in a disrespectful way. The child burst into floods of tears. It struck me as an interaction where the child is desperate for love and affection, but has no idea what it is she is supposed to be in order to earn it. And the parent is inconsistent and just plain unkind.

Mum number 4 (me) got off the bus many stops before she had intended, and waited for the next bus, musing on the glories of the teenage years these women have ahead of them, and on the likelihood of them being invited to play an active role as grandparents in due course.