Teacher and Manifesto Club member, Michele Ledda, launched a petition against the banning of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, ‘Education for Leisure’. The exam board AQA has removed the poem from its GCSE anthology, and has asked schools to destroy old copies containing the poem, because it supposedly glorified knife crime.
Over 700 teachers, students and parents have signed the petition. Among the signatories are poets George Szirtes, Ann Sansom, Catherine Smith, former Laureate Andrew Motion, critic Ronan McDonald, novelist and anti-censorship campaigner Lisa Appignanesi and many others.
I am a student aged 15, and I strongly oppose the ban on the poem education for leisure. The poem deals with one of many issues that need to be brought to light, in a grabbing and interesting way. It does seem that anything slightly out-of-joint or politically incorrect, is suddenly banned, or kept from prying eyes. And to be frank, it infuriates me. Helen Jones
Professionals have got to stand up for themselves and not accept interference from people who have no idea what they are talking about. Lucy Nankivell
Read a selection of petition comments.
Education for Leisure
Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets
I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.
I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.
I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
For signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.
There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.
Mrs Schofield’s GCSE [the poem which Carol Ann Duffy penned in response to the banning of ‘Education for Leisure’]
You must prepare your bosom for his knife,
said Portia to Antonio in which
of Shakespeare’s Comedies? Who killed his wife,
insane with jealousy? And which Scots witch
knew Something wicked this way comes? Who said
Is this a dagger which I see? Which Tragedy?
Whose blade was drawn which led to Tybalt’s death?
To whom did dying Caesar say Et tu? And why?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – do you
know what this means? Explain how poetry
pursues the human like the smitten moon
above the weeping, laughing earth; how we
make prayers of it. Nothing will come of nothing:
speak again. Said by which King? You may begin.