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.
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.