Friday, 5 July 2013

I Hate to Admit This...

I have to admit that Katie Hopkins has a point BUT (I hasten to add) she has completely the wrong attitude. For those who have no clue what I'm talking about, Katie Hopkins was recently on This Morning and announced that she judges children based on their forenames. (Full video is here) She also refuses to let her kids play with children who have names such as 'Tyler' and 'Chardonnay'. One point that everyone picked up on, including host Philip Schofield, was that Hopkins doesn't like children who are named after places, but she has a daughter called India. Hmm.

But anyway...

You may or may not be aware that I share Hopkins' forename (albeit spelled differently). I'll admit I was tempted to start a war against the name Katie/Katy/[insert other spellings of the name] but decided that was immature. Plus, as she does have a point, but the wrong attitude, I decided a blog post would be a better idea.

Judging children by their forenames is not a new concept. In the book 'It's Your Time You're Wasting' by Frank Chalk, a book about the everyday life as a teacher, he writes a whole chapter about the names of children and how likely they are to succeed in school. The chapter 'Top Set, Bottom Set: A Game For All The Family' describes how some teachers can tell immediately if a group of names is likely to be ranked high or low academically-wise. He also describes how he placed a class of students he'd never met into academic sets, and 'horrified' their teacher with his accuracy. So Katie Hopkins does (frustratingly) have a point, but her superior attitude is completely and utterly wrong.

In another chapter of Chalk's book, the one before the chapter above ('Nathan, and School-Phobia'), the author writes about a girl with a name that Katie Hopkins would turn up her nose at. The name used in the book is 'Kylie', but obviously, due to confidentiality, it's not her real name. Chalk describes her as 'a quiet little girl', 'a very bright kid' and 'an aptitude for schoolwork that's incredible, given her background.' Chalk goes on to say how she's from one of the roughest families around, with her father imprisoned for attempted murder, an alcoholic mother and a home that's completely unsuitable for children. Yet, Chalk says, she battles to succeed, doesn't mix with the rough ones in school and is among the best in the class. This 'Kylie' really wants to succeed in life, and all the teachers, Chalk included, are desperate for it to happen.

This young girl is probably in her late teens or twenties by now, depending how long ago the incidents in the book happened, but it would be interesting to know how she is doing now. Was she able to keep her head above water and succeed, or did her name and background prevent her from a bright future? Whilst Katie Hopkins would most likely have prevented her children from even being in the same room as the polite, bright, 'Kylie', the teacher, Chalk, was doing everything in his power to help her succeed. Had Chalk and the other teachers turned their noses up at 'Kylie' for her name and background, she really would have had no chance.

The school Chalk teaches at is described as being a very rough school, so I would imagine that 'Kylie', being a bright and polite girl, would have been at high risk of bullying. It doesn't say whether or not she actually was, but could you imagine this young girl, trying hard to succeed despite her background, staying clear of the rough crowd and being bullied by them, desperately wanting to make a 'good' friend but being shunned, simply because of her NAME? She didn't fit among the rough crowd where many would have placed her, because she was intelligent and well spoken. She didn't fit among the intelligent and well spoken because of her rough background. She needed help to get her away from that background, but the likes of Katie Hopkins would turn her back.

There are probably many more like 'Kylie' out there, born into a rough background that gives them little chance in life. How many of them end up becoming rough themselves because they were not given a chance to succeed in life? How many of them could have been valuable assets to the country, had they simply been given a chance?

So next time an angry, "Gerrover 'ere Tyler/Chardonnay!" is heard, don't judge the child by their name. That child could be desperate to break free from their rough background and make a difference in this world. Turning your back on them isn't going to help, and will just pass the problem down through the generations. If they are given a chance, who knows what little Tyler/Chardonnay could achieve?

One thing's for sure though, they certainly won't achieve anything by being ignored.


  1. For anyone to just forbid their child from seeing another child or bringing them home purely on the basis of their first name, without even having met them or their parents, is just prejudiced and wrong. I can understand her wanting her children to associate with children who will be a good influence, and I agree that some names are indicative of the level of education of a parent, but her stance is pure prejudice.

    Also, the name Kylie is not really a chavvy name. It's the name of a popular actor and singer that everyone is aware of and was hugely popular among girls in the late 80s and early 90s, and that included a lot of girls from quite respectable families. My sister watched Neighbours and bought all the records and we're not chavvy. There has been a long enough time since then for the name to become popular and not everyone who calls their daughter that would be thinking of Kylie Minogue. Also, Kyle always has been a common Scottish boy's name, so Kylie might be thought of as a female version.

    A few years ago, I was doing a delivery to a shop in Guildford, and the girl behind the counter was called Luka, and I could tell she was about the right age to have been born just after a song by that name was a hit. The song was sung by Suzanne Vega and was about a child who was being battered. Not suggesting that she was named after the Luka in the song, but the song sung in the first person by a woman must have given some people the impression that Luka is a girl's name, which in fact it isn't. It's just Luke in various Eastern European languages and the Luka in the song was male, as her interviews made clear, but the song didn't.

    1. Her prejudiced attitude is very wrong. It really does sicken me that she'd stay away from a child who could potentially be in need, purely because of the child's name.

      One thing though, the girl's name isn't Kylie. It was a pen name Chalk gave to her. Chalk does describe that the name Kylie can be given to children outside of rough areas, so it is a name that does throw him. In the chapter 'Top Set, Bottom Set: A Game For All The Family', he does say how Kylie is sometimes mixed into the top set to make the game harder. However, these facts show that you can't judge a book by its cover, nor a child by their name. It's sad, and so elitist that Hopkins does do this. I'm ashamed to share my name with her.