A right to reply – teenagers in the media letter

Dear Mr Dacre.

I’m writing in response to the criticizing nature in which teenagers are adversely represented by your paper, and employees. The article is broadly negative about the whole programme, education, teachers and pupils in general. Levy & Davidson repeatedly and purposely highlight every bad aspect of the first episode, and future episodes to come. And with Nick Seaton, relate them to us teenagers in many ways, such as the controversial ‘What sort of example is this to set our children’ which is highly likely to entice conflict. That’s practically discriminating us ‘children’, insulting our self-discipline, saying we’re liable to be influenced by individuals within the show. Throughout the article there are more examples like this which belittle us on a whole.

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Later on, a single person is described as ‘Panda eyed’ and unrightfully prejudiced against for asking ‘What is Pi? Where does it come from?’ Levy & Davidson present her asking this question as thick, and ignorant. Although is this really a stupid question? Because I myself, do not know where Pi originated from. Mr Goddard also states ‘we have a very comprehensive intake’ so why is there the need to specifically focus and mock less abled pupils? Many aspects of the article revolve around similar points like this.

The best part of a whole paragraph is directed towards an ill behaved student named ‘Carmelita’. Levy & Davidson repeatedly highlight aspects like these within their article, giving an overall substandard representation of both the teachers, and pupils. This doesn’t do any justice for either my own dignity, or other teenagers within the same generation. Nick Seaton states ‘if this is an outstanding school then it doesn’t say much for the rest.’ This point effectively associates any bad aspects of Educating Essex with other schools. That includes and targets their teachers, pupils and myself, in a very unfavourable light.

I was also displeased with the criticising view that teachers are likely to adversely influence us pupils in general, e.g. Nick Seaton denunciates that teachers have ‘extremely childish behaviour…who are setting a very bad example for the pupils as they are all likely to see the programme’. This generalises us teenagers as people who endeavour to follow in the footsteps of a few unprofessionally behaved teachers, and bad mannered pupils. I’m sure the mass of us have a few more brain cells, than to even consider following this ‘very bad example’. Supporting this point, areas such as the headline and largely Nick Seaton’s speech ridicule us by questioning ‘whether putting cameras in a school in the age of reality TV is a good idea when most young people want to play up to them’.

In addition to my previous point, I don’t approve of the way teachers are negatively represented either. There does have to be some level of entertainment value from the teaching, for any pupil to be willing to learn. So it’s unfair when teachers are also repetitively belittled. A strict environment would only entice further dispute from the few disruptive pupils like Carmelita. You can’t fight fire with fire.

Another point I’d like to conclude is the common use of branding us teenagers as ‘children’. Levy & Davidson frequently label us this, such as ‘Insolent children talk back to teachers’, because this phrase is best associated with ‘young’ ‘mischievous’ and ‘deviants’. Consequently, this would be wrong, as not every teenager is an ill-behaved deviant that commonly answers back. The schools previous academic year still oversaw a 67 per cent proportion of pupils achieving 5+ GCSE’s at grades A*-C, this is the equivalent to 2/3s of the school. This larger percentage clearly demonstrates that the school wasn’t all ‘insolent’, otherwise how did they even pass? Furthermore, this isn’t justifiable to label and represent us all with words like ‘insolent’ and children’.

Levy & Davidson also describe both teachers and pupils as a ‘grim picture of life’ and them emerging ‘in an unflattering light’. However this isn’t entirely appropriate. If we look at when the date the article was written, it’s only based on the contents of what the first episode broadcasted. Not the whole series. And overall, these features are more susceptible to be negative, as this usually includes juicy and interesting things that are likely to pull the audience back for the next episode. Additionally, part of the article that’s based on this limited knowledge, which includes ‘bullying’ ‘teenage pregnancy’ and a student’s suffering from personal affairs, is yet again highlighted in spite.

I hope you take my views into consideration, as this article doesn’t do any justice for I myself, or other teenagers.

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