Rector’s eNews – 08 September 2021/ Rector's eNews
One of the roles of our Senior Master: Pastoral, Tim Jarvis, is to coordinate the interactions of the tutor groups and to provide suggestions to tutors, depending upon the time of the year, as to topics which might be raised in the course of their meeting with tutees. These topics are often around a consideration of how well prepared boys may be for certain upcoming school events such as the C Block Journey or the D or E Block outdoor education opportunities. How to deal with the stress of examinations is another typical example of what may be discussed in tutor groups. Tutors need flexibility as to how they engage with their groups from week to week and the knowledge that certain topics may need more or less “airtime”, but a recent recommendation from Tim Jarvis has been to discuss what has become known as the Cancel Culture. It refers to “the popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel Culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.” In discussing this with our boys, we are largely drawing on the work of a group called Achieve Careers.
Cancel Culture has become a trend on social media, though the concept has been around for many years with people being ostracised for doing or saying, or perceived to be doing or saying, controversial things. However, with the proliferation of social media, public shaming has now escalated. It began with people “cancelling” celebrities, brands or companies with the intention of potentially ending the career of the person being cancelled or revoking his/her cultural cachet whether through boycotts of their work or another form of action.
There is, of course, much debate over this phenomenon. Some people believe it is a way to hold others accountable for their actions, whilst others consider all people have a right to express their views on any particular topic. Indeed, there are many things on which people do not agree and every individual should be entitled to form an opinion, even if these opinions may not be permanent as we are constantly exposed to new ideas that mould us and shape our personalities.
There are many ironies in the Cancel Culture: for example the Australian intellectual and a major voice in the radical feminist movement, Germaine Greer, had for many years written on topics of women’s liberation and gender issues contained in such well-known works as The Female Eunuch, but university students at various British universities, including Cardiff University, mounted a fierce campaign in 2015 to stop her delivering a lecture because she had indicated that she did not accept that men who had had a gender reassignment could be deemed to be females. Eventually it appears that she was allowed to give her lecture at Cardiff, but security was extremely tight. Others holding views counter to what the “mob” wishes to entertain as the “truth” have not been so fortunate.
Opinions held on different sides of the spectrum can cause enormous conflict between people, but it is important to deal with different opinions and to be able to hold conversations in a healthy and mature way, and this is what we consider to be the approach that we would wish to have our pupils engage in.
Having a successful conversation on a controversial topic means:
• Being open to and willing to consider other people’s opinions on a topic, even if they differ from your own.
• Having your own well-informed opinion on a topic.
• Having a calm, engaging discussion without losing your temper, shutting down or cancelling the people with whom you are engaging.
There are various videos with which our boys are likely to engage over the next weeks. These are the following and they may open up an opportunity to discuss this topic with your sons over the holidays:
• Cancelling Cancel Culture with Compassion (11.25)
• An Explanation of Cancel Culture (4.19)
• The Problem with Cancel Culture (5.09)
bit.ly/ProblemCancelCulture | (Please note that this video clip contains reference to sex and violence.)
On an entirely different matter, at the Board Meetings held on Thursday and Friday last week it was decided that it would be sensible to focus on the development and upgrading of a number of classrooms in 2022 ahead of the project of building a new Tatham and to hold over the commencement of the latter until 2023.