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HE Poetry on Radio Four

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 16 years ago

Poetry about Elective Home Education (Radio Four.)




A "guerilla report" on radio four prompted the resident poet of the day, Elvis Mcgonagal (armchair revolutionary,) to pose his poetic ponderings at the end of the programme. I have copied his poem below and also my own response. Listen to the report (relevant bit): the relevant bit.mp3


Listen to the whole programme on radio four: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/saturdaylive/guerrilla_reporter.shtml (report starts at 36 mins. Elvis Mcgonagal poem at end of programme)



Going Loco In Parentis


Education, education, education

Decisions, decisions, decisions

The Lord Sebastian Coe Comprehensive For The Gifted And Troublesome or

Home-Sweet-Home Tuition?

Should you have Gordon Brown's Schooldays

Prudently squaring your hypotenuse

In a Wee Jimmy Krankie uniform

Satchel, short-back-and-sides, shiny shoes?

Or will you escape the chalk-face scrape

Of the blackboard's logarithm blues

To skateboard around the curriculum

With parental permission to pick'n'mix 'n choose?

Will they muck you up your Mum and Dad?

Will family tutelage all end in tears?

Will she become Miss Jean Brodie?

Is he secretly Wackford Squeers?

Are they walking encyclopaedias

At D-I-Y Domesticity College?

Can they muster their rhomboids and harness their gerunds?

Will they sow the seeds of your knowledge?

Will you have any conception of Nietzsche's Ubermenschen*

Or the annexation of the Sudetenland?

Will you think the Mona Lisa was painted by Di Caprio

And Bunsen Burner is a heavy metal band?

Will your eyes be opened and your mind set free

By edification both fun and far-sighted?

Or will you be the dunce in a class of your own

Joining Nobby-No-Mates Reunited?

Dame Agatha Christie was taught en famille

And didn't she do well?

But apparently so was Mel Gibson

Which shows that you never can tell

So, is it "Hello St.Custards" or "Goodbye Mr Chips"?

On which method can we depend?

Well, as Nigel Molesworth himself might have said -

"Any fule kno - but can I fone a frend?"


Elvis McGonagal.




My reply is two poems/voices speaking alongside or in response to each other. The first voice is in two line stanzas and that is me, what I wanted to say. The second voice interupts in two six line and one four line pieces, in italics, that came to me at the same time; an expression of the commonly received ideas which I believe are behind Elvis's questions.




Born with your eyes open and an instinct wild and free

The world will want to be quite sure you are as you should be


If authorized instruction cannot cease your song a while

To teach you the creator of the enigmatic smile

Will you learn the proper things or anything at all?

If all you do is love your life and answer natures call

To learn and love from birth till you are grown

Will you ever have a friend who you could call your own?


Born with the seeds of knowledge and the power to make it be

Might your independent values change the face of history?


If authorized instruction cannot cease your play a while

To teach you what’s important in the long accepted style

Will you confuse what’s current with what’s past?

if all you do is make your love and fun in learning last

Will you learn fun is trivia, learning is serious and given ya?

Will you look this gift horse straight down the mouth of love free academia?


It is human all too human to extinguish what is feared

When security had been achieved in things as they appeared


Even armchair revolutionaries fall in with the crowd

To worry when you slip your chains as they were not allowed

Your skills shaped in the mystery before the instructed word

Are the skills that always must be trained to follow with the herd.


The advancement of humanity, thus speaks the established view,

Depends upon the binding of the hearts of such as you.


Barbara Stark (C) 2007





SEE ALSO: The Schoolboy


SEE ALSO: Poetry Page




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