December 6th 2014

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Articles from this issue:

SOCIETY The wealth of nations depends on the health of families

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Latest federal push for same-sex 'marriage'

MARRIAGE LAW Can state parliaments legislate for same-sex marriage?

TRIBUTE Famed Australian bioethicist who never sought public honours

CANBERRA OBSERVED Palmer party Senate split stymies government agenda

EDITORIAL Behind Obama's unfriendly behaviour at G20

ENVIRONMENT US-China climate agreement a cynical political ploy

AGRICULTURE Hope Dairies' big export venture to China

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS Lesson of Japan's debt-free economic stimulus

EUROPE Will Ireland be the next European nation to ban surrogacy?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Cross-strait ties remain Taiwan's biggest challenge

OPINION Has 'quality' education for girls rally come to this?

CULTURE Visual media crucial for conveying truth

BOOK REVIEW A battle between titans

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Has 'quality' education for girls rally come to this?

by Amy Brooke

News Weekly, December 6, 2014

A reviewer of Miley Cyrus’s recent Auckland concert described the barely-dressed, aggressively twerking, tongue-poking pop singer featuring in “some of the most bizarre and borderline obscene videos you’re ever likely to see, e.g., “Miley sucking on a frankfurter while holding another by her crotch.” 

Miley Cyrus

But is this much more than carrying on the tradition of Madonna and Michael Jackson — with the extremes of sexually suggestive moves, which may be summarised as “a cheap, vulgar sleazefest”? And should it bother us that a young woman’s degraded, virtually pornographic performance could be greeted with enthusiasm by other commentators? 

Is there anything actually now wrong with our society that pop singing is promoted in state schools to highly vulnerable teenagers as a priority career choice? It isn’t as if educationists are unaware of the literally dead-end road to which this can lead youngsters desperate to strut the stage … to a celebrity cult underpinned by a swollen egoism — let alone narcissism — often bolstered by drug-taking and alcoholism, and involving sexual promiscuity and a higher suicide rate than other lifestyle choices.

What can one say about this possibly disturbed pop-singer’s packed audience of mainly female, screaming fans from about 12 years of age upwards, adoring her, claiming “she helps them to be themselves”? And why are some schools trying to dodge or deflect those questioning why they are encouraging our young to hero-worship dubious “celebrities”? Why do such schools facilely cave in to the claim that Miley Cyrus’s critics must come from a generation which is “out of touch”? 

In fact, much concerned feedback comes from a generation which has been exposed far more to the very real lessons of history than those with a whole life of learning still ahead of them. 

Leaving aside J.M Barrie’s gentle reflection that he was “not young enough to know everything”, isn’t it time that those who have been on the planet far longer than the over-confident, hectoring spokespersons for today’s young, began to stand up to be counted? 

Is it not time we seriously questioned so much of what is prioritised in our state schools today? In among the almost hysterical defences of Cyrus’s basically obscene behaviour from “screaming zombie girls” came more cautionary comments, such as — “Wow, humanity has really gone down the toilet if this is what is going through the empty skulls of some teenagers these days.” 

This interesting observation begs the question: why do we now have a phenomenon of much-admired behaviour that a generation ago would have been legitimately regarded as ominous, and genuinely shocking? And why do so many of our young seem to have nothing at all worthwhile stored in their heads by the time they leave behind all their years of schooling? 

Some of this is the inevitable distraction from quality learning by the early promotion of pop music in schools to highly impressionable children as young as 8-10 years, and even younger — with their “very own DJs” and their own too-early introduction to boyfriends, eliciting the subsequent giggling in the playground. 

Inappropriately short-circuiting the innocence of childhood with sex education lessons also arouses curiosity among some children, and disturbs others. Neither has inundating children and their parents with sexually-targeted promotions cashing in on an increasingly lucrative market been accidental.

So, not all harmless stuff? Even the emphasis, here in Nelson, on New Zealand’s South Island, on the hyped promotion of the SmokeFreeRockQuest (SFRQ) as a supposedly wonderful opportunity for sending even more of our young down the road towards the celebrity cult?

Whatever happened to the idea of a quality education where children with less going for them than those from more fortunate family backgrounds were given an equal opportunity to be taught the best of what can be offered them? The focus on politicised “issues” — as well as the second-rate — has edged out this important body of learning.

The research conducted for my book, The 100 Days: Claiming Back New Zealand: What Has Gone Wrong and How We Can Control Our Politicians (Auckland: 2013), features a special chapter detailing the destructive agenda of those with the intent to destabilise Western society. It records how their tactics were long-planned. According to the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, the West would not be defeated in war, but would eventually succumb to the Left’s infiltration of all our institutions, aided by what Lenin called “useful idiots”. 

Well-meaning individuals in government and the education bureaucracy have been no doubt unwittingly programmed to regard themselves as “professionals” who know best, even conniving at the covert belief that parents are “the most dangerous people of all” whose influence should be eliminated “if necessary by force”, according to Dr Brock Chisholm, the first director of the World Health Organisation.

However, with our primary schools no longer offering anything like academic excellence, isn’t it time for better-informed parents to offer a much-needed challenge to what is happening?

New Zealand columnist Amy Brooke is a socio-political commentator, children’s writer and poet long involved in education issues, with over 20 books published to date (a number of them available from News Weekly Books).

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