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Ofsted's "white boys"


"White boys from deprived backgrounds need action-packed stories about danger or sport to inspire them in lessons, Ofsted, the education regulator, said yesterday".

Okay, let me just say first that I think this is true of BOYS in general. To ascribe this to skin colour and to equate working class as deprived strikes me as weird and wrong.

I agree that a culture may destroy a boy's natural spirit of adventure, and the classroom as the place of confinement is where modern cultures start.

But "white boys need action-packed stories"? Gurkhas don't want and need action-packed stories? What about Pte Johnson Beharry? Or Olaudah Equiano? What about Sikh or Native American or Arab or Persian or Chinese or a million other boys who are not "white"? Modern culture is destroying the spirit of boys and colour-coding that destruction isn't helpful, nor, given the race relations industry, will it get us anywhere.

It is boys who are being hurt, and deprived of their inheritance of wisdom and courage.

Historically Britain has been full of boys who travelled all over the world and acted heroically. They were inspired and supported by their culture, and they left behind plenty of action stories.

You will not find many of them in Ofsted's recommended list, however. I found just one semi-historical account - of the Battle of Trafalgar - and one biography - of Isambard Brunel- but I may have missed a third among the dozens of spooks, hamsters and 'horribles' that were featured.

"In the most successful literacy activities, teachers took care to choose texts that interested the boys," Ofsted said. "These tended to focus on action-packed narratives which emphasised sporting prowess, courageous activities in the face of danger and situations where characters had to overcome challenges."

Fine, but it's experiences that boys need, even if they become scholars. In the Royal Navy they learned mathematics, navigation, geography and world cultures while sailing. Yes, you're right, it was dangerous. Some of the boys died. But some boys always die. Today boys are incarcerated in classrooms, dying for lack of inspiration, moral guidance and action.

History tells us that is a terrible shame whatever "colour" a man may be.

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