Hampstead School ‘anarchist’ blogger should not be censored | Rowena Davis

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NOTnineteen years old Kinnan Zaloom was reported to the police by his former headmaster – for writing a Private Eye-style blog criticizing the way his school is run. The head of this North London association banished Kinnan from school grounds and called his chosen university to warn them to accept this “developing anarchist”. It’s a story that gets to the heart of what’s wrong with British schools. This begs the question: what is education?

Kinnan’s blog, the Hampstead Bin, is full of swear words, but it’s not illegal or violent. Instead, the teenager used the blog to attack school spending decisions and GCSE performance. In particular, he argued that more money should be spent on music and gym equipment and less on promotional materials. He also called for a massive increase in student voice, which he said was massively underrepresented. Now that he’s been kicked out, his argument unfortunately seems to have been proven.

This issue touches me deeply, as I am a former pupil of Hampstead School. Yes, we were still poised on the edge of anarchy. When the war in Iraq broke out, we walked out of class in protest. We created debate societies and attacked the privatized school canteen by organizing a boycott against unhealthy food. We learned the most by questioning everything and being encouraged to think independently by our excellent teachers. I have no doubt that is what enabled me and my friends to go up against Eton in the debates and win, and follow the careers we wanted. We sometimes overstepped the mark, but without it we’d just be a bunch of bored kids churning out answers.

Then there is the issue of freedom of the press, and indeed freedom of thought. The principal had the blog banned from the school computers. When asked what worried him about the messages, he told the local newspaper that Kinnan had “mentioned the ideologies of anarchism and individualism” and that he had a responsibility to inform the public. university of his choice of a student who “thought like that”.

Think about it for a moment – ​​what does “too much individualism” mean? Should work on the philosophy of anarchism be criminalized? Kinnan, whose family is originally from Jordan, said he was keenly aware of these threats to freedom. Personally, I find him less threatening than his director.

A school should be responsible for opening thoughts, not closing them. But increasingly we are seeing a shift in the culture of education that rewards branding over substance, desperate that schools need to have good public relations so they can attract ‘nice guys’ students from “nice” families who will achieve impressive results in an increasingly competitive school market. The answer is to do the exact opposite of what the Secretary of State for Education wants – more freedom of thought, rather than the homogeneity and rigid discipline implemented, which leaves no room for question of authority and power.

If Kinnan had been a year younger, his exclusion from school would have prevented him from taking his baccalaureate. More than that, the principal sends a dangerous message to the rest of the school about what education means. Until now, the blog is maintained by an anonymous student. I just hope that the rest of the students at my old school will continue to trust the good teachers that are there and find their voices.

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