Daughters of Eve: more sinned against

16th January 2004 at 00:00
Our local newspaper reports that two schools in our borough have "sailed into the top 5 per cent of all schools in the country" in the "value-added league tables".

As these schools enter Eden - the Land at the Top of League Table - so Daughter, apparently, sinks into the ranks of sinners. Not only is Daughter a descendant of Eve and cause of original sin, but in schools she and her ilk are also directly responsible for the failingsfailures among teenage boys.

This is the view of the respected and oft-quoted educator in charge of the said "successful" boys' school. This man attributes a major part of his school's "success" to the absence of "giggling girls in the back row".

Ergo, the presence of girls in a school leads to lesser performance by its boys.

Thus, it must be at Daughter's school. For they are gigglers every one.

Sometimes sulkers, sweethearts, or foul-tempered harridans - but mainly gigglers. Normal, teenage girls, in other words - fit only to dwell in the Land East of Eden for their sins against the sons of Adam.

We could deduce that at the top-performing girls' school, the absence of the whiff of young male sweat, testosterone laden air with its trail of aftershave, keeps the girls focussed on their work. This, however, is not mentioned in the article in our local paper. Adam, as always, is blameless - or at least we shall be silent on the issue.

But Eve? Not only has she for aeons been responsible for Adam's sins, but in her 21st century incarnation of giggling schoolgirl, she is now also causing him to be stupid. Girls turn boys into "Jack the Lads" who are driven to perform for the benefit of such gigglers, making them "self-conscious" and "slaughter(ing) their confidence". Oh, how we, who put our girls to school among boys, have sinned.

Daughter - whose self-confidence hasn't been damaged in the slightest by these accusations - has several problems with this "educator's view".

First, she thought such views had disappeared into the annals (she insists on calling it the anus, in her giggling fashion) of history along with the letters MCP. Second, she believes that it is her right, as a 14-year-old, to giggle. If boys are so easily distracted, that's their problem.

She remains entrenched at the top of her year, despite boys calling her a brunette bimbo (or maybe to spite them for doing so) so what's their case? Can't they handle the heat? Is that why this man is saying it's best for them to get out of the kitchen?

Daughter's now blonde-streaked hair, makeup, tights and perfume, hide a hard-bottomed feminist who has graduated from putting up anti-sexism notices in Year 1 to throwing down the academic gauntlet in Year 10, as she swings that bottom and giggles.

Daughter reckons the credit for the performance of these schools has less to do with their single-sex status, than with several other factors. If this were not so, then why are all the other single-sex schools not up there with these two? And how come the top spot is shared with co-ed schools?

The answer must lie beyond the separation of gigglers and Jack the Lads.

What the top schools have in common, Daughter alleges, include such factors as:

* selective admission

* low proportions or non-existence of children from refugee, non-English speaking and poorunemployed families

* low proportions or non-existence at such schools of children with special educational needs. Daughter cannot fathom why people in this country are always on about the segregation of women in Muslim countries, including the separate education of girls - yet some of those same people argue that it's a good thing here.

And she fears that this educator is not adequately preparing boys for the real world. A world in which men and women live and work together in this the 21st century, after a long (by no means over) battle. One fought by once giggling girls grown up into tough women. Last, Daughter expresses regret at the thought of everything that the boys at this particular school are missing in growing up. Vanity not being the least of Daughter's sins, I understand completely what she means.

I would have liked Daughter to respond personally to these slurs, just to prove that within her ranks of fellow gigglers include intelligent life forms - but she thinks it's beneath her. Besides, she's too busy gigglingI

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