Music and poetry linked to community cohesion

In class today we learnt about community cohesion and how things like the London Riots of 2011 might wreck our idea of what a strong, united community looks like.

Plan B’s Ill Manors is a great song showing how poor investment in community initiatives like community centres pushes young people to do things they shouldn’t, like rioting. Listen carefully to the lyrics.

Then there’s a song by Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip called Great Britain which again if listened to carefully explains how knife crime and gang crime can ruin communities.

Moving on to poetry now, Benjamin Zephaniah’s famous poem The British is read by young people as part of the BBC Poetry Season. You can read the poem on Zephaniah’s website too.

Finally here’s a debate show arguing about whether we should promote a united British identity. Some might prefer us celebrating everyone’s differences whereas others think we should all blend together into some British identity.

Natural evil battering Britain

Natural evil, suffering caused by nature, is currently battering large parts of Britain with high winds and heavy rainfall resulting in flooding and electricity cuts.

Read on the BBC how the government tries to respond to these natural disasters with flood organisations giving people flood warnings to they can be ready for danger and how people are on the ground ready to respond to any serious risks to life.

Who’s to blame for this kind of suffering?

Can God exist when people suffer in a world he supposedly created?

Shouldn’t God be omni-benevelent, omniscient and omnipotent so natural evil wouldn’t exist?

Are humans actually to blame for siting their towns and villages in areas prone to flooding like on river banks or coastal areas?

More Banksy

If you want some Banksy without much explanation this website offers photographs of hundreds of his work.

Dismaland was an incredible theme park that left people scrambling for entry; all managed by Banksy. Watch the video on this Guardian news article.

Even the Americans love him! Banksy was here! is an article in the New Yorker.

Banksy is interesting to Religious Education students as he comments on social, political and religious issues which we study in class. Here he is doing murals in Palestine to show his dismay at the huge concrete wall the Israelis built to keep Palestinians out. With Channel 4 news reporting on his work.

An excellent film for aspiring graffiti artists is Exit Through the Gift Shop; a humorous portrayal of how street artists make their living, by Banksy.

Banksy is busy again

artwork french embassy

There is new artwork by Banksy outside the French embassy in London. It shows the figure from Les Miserables being surrounded by teargas. The meaning behind the art? It is drawing the world’s attention to how the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp in Calais is allegedly being cleared by the French using tear gas. The Guardian reports on Banksy’s latest political message.

Banksy’s work in London follows a mural in a tunnel of the Calais migrant camp a few weeks ago which showed Steve Jobs the founder of Apple. The link between Jobs and the migrant camp? Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian migrants, and in a short statement accompanying the work, Banksy emphasised that Apple, one of the most profitable companies in the world, only existed because “they allowed in a young man from Homs”.



Is your room so messy it’ll affect your GCSE grades?

Research by Oxford University has shown that teenagers with dirty messy rooms, who never open the window to ventilate it and so live and sleep in smelly rooms, can suffer from insomnia thereby affecting their achievement in GCSE exams.

messy room

The Daily Mail reports how Oxford professors say:

‘The smelly teenager’s bedroom is a byproduct of the fact that the room is full of rebreathed air, which is low in oxygen and high in nitrogen. If you keep on rebreathing the same air in a small bedroom that is hot and not ventilated you will wake up with a headache after a poor night’s sleep.”

Other research is putting pressure on schools to start educating teenagers of the importance of a tidy room which gets well ventilated and isn’t too hot, as well as the need to turn off computers, tablets and phones a decent time before bed to stop the artificial light suppressing their natural need to sleep.


BBC Radio 1 Future Festival

Earlier on in the week Radio 1 had their Future Festival where they played interesting artists and bands who they think should be listened to in 2016. They are not predicted to necessarily make it big, sell millions of albums, but they should be listened to as they’re so good. Don’t forget that music is a great of learning for RE with lots of songs exploring issues we study in class.

You can watch clips from the evening on BBC iPlayer radio. Worth a close listen to is Loyle Carner and Ain’t Nothing Changed. The rapper tells us about a life that most people can relate to, post-uni life, working for money for your family rather than yourself, and no matter how hard you work nothing really changes. What’s really nice is his songs are full of passion and emotion, but don’t have that typical male bravado that rap songs often suffer from. Meanwhile you’ve probably already heard Nao’s Bad Blood (audio only) on the radio.

Surely when we talk about multiculturalism in Unit 1 Section 4 of the GCSE, one of the huge positives for Britain is we have such an amazing range of music genres due to all the influences on our musicians.

Rationale singing Something for Nothing, about 5 songs down the BBC page, is really upbeat if you’re having a tough week. Or you can listen to it on YouTube.


Sam Smith tweets shock at racism in London

In equal measure the singer Sam Smith has been praised and criticised for tweeting his outrage at witnessing a friend being racially abused in London. Critics say it just shows the white middle class ignorance at the level of racism that is constantly existing in the UK  – as in if you don’t see it then it isn’t happening. Whereas others have praised him, including the Show Racism the Red Card organisation for putting the spotlight on racism and expressing how disgusting it is.


Sam’s tweets are reported on the BBC  and the backlash he’s received. All we know from the tweets is that he saw his friend being racially abused and was in complete shock that this sort of thing actually exists, and that the police seemed to be no help at all.

Sam Smith has an amazing 2015 with the Red Nose Day song Lay Me Down with John Legend and the first ever number one Bond song Writing’s On The Wall.

Schoolboy questioned for saying he lived in a ‘terrorist house’

What the ten year-old was trying to write was that ‘he lived in a terraced house’.

The school reported it to the police and his parents were questioned by Lancashire police and the family laptop examined. News reports scoff at how an innocent spelling mistake could cause such an over-reaction.

Housing stock

The day after the spelling error officers arrived at the boy’s home to interview him and examine the family laptop

Was this a school just doing its job by reporting any suspicious actions showing sympathy to terrorism or non British activity, or a society gone crazy?


The Numbers Don’t Lie

The Met Office and other international organisations are all agreeing that 2015 was another record hot year. Experts are concerned that global warming is pushing the earth’s climate into unchartered territory.

In Britain 2015 was already 1 degree warmer than before fossil fuels started to be burnt off, making the Paris agreement to keep future increases to less than 2 degrees since pre-industrial times look even more difficult.

Asylum Seekers get a red door

A few newspapers have reported about the Middlesborough policy of painting asylum seekers door red.

The Daily Mail likens it to 1930s Germany, but rather than a yellow star it’s the painted doors, and says its like living with apartheid.

Whereas the Guardian is more interested in whether this is an isolated case or they can discover that other local areas are identifying asylum seekers by colouring doors.

What can’t be questioned is that if you start identifying groups in society by their door colour it won’t be conducive to community cohesion. Imagine if your door was painted a certain colour because you’d escaped war torn Syria or Afghanistan and trying to seek asylum in a new country and make a new life for yourself all the neighbourhood, good and bad, could immediately work out who you were.