Monday, 9 November 2009

Blame it on the name

According to a survey commissioned by parenting club ( no, I haven’t a clue what a parenting club is either), teachers think they can tell whether a child is going to be well behaved or naughty, brainy or popular simply by looking at their names.

Around 3,000 teachers were polled with more than a third expecting pupils with names such as Connor, Chardonnay and Courtney to be more disruptive, while Alexanders, Emmas, Benjamins and Charlottes were assumed to be brainier. Faye Mingo from said:

"Rightly or wrongly, most of us make assumptions based on something as simple as a person's name and we base these on our previous experiences.”

Now, I hate surveys as I believe them totally pointless as the reason most of them are commissioned is because they are a successful marketing tool. needs to make money, so it needs to attract more subscribers. How does it get subscribers? By getting some press coverage. How does it get its name in the papers? Well, other than commit a crime or be a celebrity, it’s probably got to be:commission a survey, the results of which thrust ill-conceived, dubious and stereotype-reinforcing theories on to the masses. This survey is no exception.

If we are to believe the surveys findings, it’s not good news. Not the suggestion that children with names associated with the working class are badly behaved, but that one third of teachers make assumptions based on a child’s name.

As if it is not bad enough to be named after fermenting grapes, you enter the education system where teachers and officials are supposed to have jumped through all sorts of hoops in order to prove their commitment to equal opportunities and anti-discrimination policies and there you find a third of teachers are going to write you off as a no hoper, probably before they even meet you, based on your name.

That sentence from the representative above: try replacing ‘name’ with ‘height’, ‘size’, ‘religion’ or even, dare I say it, ‘colour’. I somehow doubt if would have got away with that but, if the survey’s results are to be believed, a third of teachers are bigots. Because discrimination is still discrimination – whatever name you want to call it.

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