Measure the Children

The increasingly Orwellian nature of education in this country inspired me to write this. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful teachers, it seems that the emphasis  is firmly on conformity and performance – as if our children were washing machines off a production line.

If it helps by the way, I picture “the meddlers” as being little oompah-loompah-crossed-with-Michael-Gove figures  – but please don’t have nightmares about that!

Measure the Children

The school was a cauldron of mischief and learning,
and children were children, their impish minds turning,
until, at the will of political men
came an army of meddlers with rulers and pens
squealing “measure the children, measure them!”

“Let art be abandoned! Let music be killed!”
cried the meddling ones, “There are forms to be filled!”
Then they pored over stories of magical horses
impatiently counting subordinate clauses
to measure the children, measure them.

“More!” they screamed, hurling out brain-popping sums
while the tape measures tangled small fingers and thumbs,
“Forget curiosity! Curb innovation!
We’re sending your teachers for recalibration…
Measure the children, measure them!”

We strive for a future where oneness prevails,
but there’s no place for play on the measuring scales,
and as tables and tests burn the light from their eyes,
we say “Hush, little citizens, think of the prize…”
and measure the children, measure them.


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School Sport

This a “concrete” poem – a poem shaped like the thing it’s describing. If it doesn’t look like the picture above, turn your phone on its side or get a larger device (wink wink). Now – gym knickers on, and let’s proceed.

School Sport

.                       School sport,                                           Tick tock,
.              simply a torture form                                 Tick tock,
.           a notch or five above the                           Oh watch
.        norm, the most horrendous                      the clock,
.        cruelty designed specifically                  When will
.          for me, who has no puff &                    this finish,
.            cannot aim – picked last                     this quest
.               in every single game:                      to pillage
.                       School sport.                             pride and
.                                                                              joy and all
.                                                                            respect??
.                                                                          In half my
.                                                                        lifetime, I
.                                                                      expect, as
.                                                                    this is just
.                                                                  a wheeze
.                                                                to squash
.                                                              my will, to
.               bring me                     to my knees;
.                  for sticks and balls may hurt
.                      us all, but double games
.                                will break me.


© Nina Parmenter 2018

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