Thursday, February 8, 2007

"Political correctness gone mad" alert - Mothering Sunday cards "banned"

I am on full orange alert to expect a rant ending "it's political correctness gone mad" from a dearly loved relative, who specialises in that sort of thing.

The rant invariably starts with the words "I read in the paper today..." so I always have ample warning to do an emergency shut down of all my critical faculties and put myself in a trance-like "um, um, yes, yes, ah, ah, yes, yes" mode.

The reason I am on orange alert is the article entitled "School Mother's Day ban attacked", which I have just read.

A school headteacher is under fire for banning pupils from making Mother's Day cards to avoid upsetting children without a mother.

Helen Starkey, 46, fears the time-honoured tradition of making a Mother's Day card at school could be seen as insensitive. As a result, the headteacher of Johnstown Primary School, in Carmarthen, west Wales, simply banned pupils from making cards.

But the move was branded as "ridiculous" by one angry parent who has accused her of being insensitive to the majority

No doubt, many of the ranting persuasion will say that this is terrible, "doing away" with cherished British traditions. Hello? Did you make a Mother's Day card for your mother at school? I certainly didn't. I made them at home or bought them. Indeed, one could remember a time before the card manufacturers got in on the act, when we simply picked a few flowers for our mothers.

It is not a cherished British tradition to make Mothering Sunday cards at school. It happens and that is nice. But if it is going to upset even one child, who doesn't have a mother, is it worth it?

I was fascinated by one comment in the article:

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: "It means 95% of the children have not got an opportunity to make a card. I take issue with the fact that Mothering Sunday is a Christian festival and Mrs Starkey is not allowing children to celebrate in the way they know how."

Hello? Is the headteacher stopping anyone from celebrating Mothering Sunday? Er no. They can still make a card and they can still celebrate the event. They can still, surprise surprise, go to church to celebrate the event. Now, that would be amazing.


  1. According to the Daily Express (they made me read it!), several mothers at the school stated that it was an example of "political correctness gone mad" (their quotes).

    I wonder if they phoned up some parents, asked 'Do you see this as an example of "political correctness gone mad",' received the response 'well... I guess so' and printed their article accordingly.

    It's journalism like this that leads ignorant and slightly-terrified managers to make silly self-censoring decisions.


  2. 'According to the Daily Express, several mothers at the school stated that it was an example of "political correctness gone mad".'

    Back of the net!

  3. I have to agree that is does seem like PC gone mad.

    While it may not be a UK tradition, and I certainly don't favour the over commercial card centric mentality we have now, I think it is utterly ridiculous to stop children from making mothers day cards because of the possibility that some children might get upset.

    "If it is going to upset one child.... is it worth it" - Yes, or rather you still have to consider it as a whole and not a panic reaction of fearing to offend - that is when political correctness has gone mad.

    Err, and what was it trying to say about christian festival...

  4. "I think it is utterly ridiculous to stop children from making mothers day cards"

    The headteacher is stopping anyone from making cards. They can make them at home or in their own time at school. She is just not doing it in class.

    "Yes, or rather you still have to consider it as a whole and not a panic reaction of fearing to offend - that is when political correctness has gone mad"

    It is clear from the headteacher's statement that this is not a panic reaction but a sensible decision based on sound knowledge of the children's backgrounds. Here statement included this:

    "More than 5% of children here are separated from their birth mother and have either no contact or no regular contact with their mother...These include children who are bereaved, children whose parents are separated and are not domiciled with their mothers, and children who have been removed from parental care by statutory bodies. In all of our dealings with these children, we have to exercise great sensitivity."

  5. *sighs*

    I think its reasonable for the school to say that.

    As you say, children can still make cards, indeed, surely the father (where there is one) would be better placed making one with the child, much better, gets the father to engage with the child... I don't really remember making cards at school, but getting things (or conspiring) with my father for my mother was common.

  6. Whenever someone uses the phrase "political correctness gone mad", I can't help but think: do you actually feel that there is some acceptable, appropriate level of something you would call "political correctness", or does the word as I suspect) leave a bad taste in your mouth no matter what? Would you ever use a phrase like "that's justice... gone mad!" (to pick one extreme) or "that's Naziism... gone mad!" (to pick the other)? Such is the state of PC — people who can't stand it seem to lack the courage to just plain say they can't. Instead, they wind up being, for all intents and purposes, redundant. Why not say, "that's political correctness, which is to say, bullshit," and leave it at that?

    Let me tell you, though, the day those PC freaks start installing wheelchair ramps everywhere, force Christian kids to hear about Yom Kippur, and tell me that Arabs deserve habeus corpus — that will be the day the world has gone mad, period.

    And I'm loving every minute of it.

  7. *sigh*

    It doesn't matter what we teachers do, we can't do right for wrong.

    I suppose I should be glad it was only the Express that got upset. The Mail must have been looking the other way...