Education: Word of Mouth

Spice of life

PARENTS WORRIED about the corrupting influence of groups like the Spice Girls on their young children need worry no longer - if, that is, researchers at the University of York are right. They questioned girls aged six to eight about the Spice Girls and discovered that the - er - more adult aspects of these young ladies went over the children's heads. The sexual aspects and innuendos of girl-power might turn some older chaps on but six-year-old girls? No way, according to Krista Cowman and Ann Kaloski, of the Centre for Women's Studies. Sporty Spice and Baby Spice (am I really writing these names?) proved the most popular "because they behave more like eight-year-olds. Young fans feel the Spice Girls copy them and not the other way around", the researchers found. And get this: high heels were a turn-off - but tracksuits were "cool". The youngsters cocked a childish snook at Posh Spice and found her image part of an "alien adult world". Did they buy Spice Girl goods? No. They had better things on which to spend their pocket money. Any expensive Spice products turned out to be gifts from adults. And they were unsolicited at that.

Anyone for cricket? Well, not anyone

RESEARCH CONDUCTED by the Roehampton Institute and the University of East London discovered two crickets: black and Asian cricket, being played in urban areas in public parks and in a "spirit of competitiveness", and white cricket, played in rural areas, on private grounds as a social occasions - in other words, the traditional ritual of English cricket. The relationship between these two cultures is not equal, according to the authors, Ian McDonald and Sharda Ugra, whose report, Anyone for Cricket, is published by the Centre for New Ethnicities Research, University of East London, at pounds 9.95. White clubs have the power to keep out black and Asian teams from the official Sunday leagues. A kind of cricket apartheid has developed. And, as far as I am concerned, that's not cricket.

The net costs

STUDENTS AND staff of universities and colleges throughout the UK have, for a nominal subscription fee that is paid by their employers, enjoyed limitless access to the Internet from the day that it was introduced. But since last week this perk has ceased to be quite so free. Quarterly bills are to be sent to institutions from November with a fortnight's notice to pay-or-else. Non-payment could result in disconnection. I hear that those Web pages and Internet data piped to institutions from America could cost anything from 10 grand to a hundred grand a year, depending on the frequency of use. The charges will no doubt end indiscriminate net surfing. Perhaps one will have to feed 10p pieces to meters fitted to each computer. There might even be a squad of Internet police patrolling campuses to check on whether students are conducting bona fide research or playing computer games.

Alumnus? So ask

WHEN IS an alumnus not an alumnus? That, in a nutshell, is what emeritus professor David Tabor wanted to know. So he penned a letter to London University's School of Oriental and African Studies to ask. He obtained his PhD in physical chemistry from Cambridge University in 1938 and took a job at a small research laboratory near the city centre. Then came the war - and Soas was evacuated to Cambridge. At a local synagogue, the young Dr Tabor met Dr Isidor Wartski who lectured in modern Hebrew at Soas. Tabor was invited to join a few others - all Cambridge undergraduates - at a weekly seminar Wartski had organised. Did this one term at a Soas seminar make Tabor an alumnus? Itwould appear so, since the school has been sending him regular copies of its alumni newsletter.

And finally ...

I HAVE just received a short letter from an insurance company (I'll not name and shame it here). It contained more than a dozen spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes. Spelling errors were of quite simple words: recieved (twice), persuing, postition (twice), confrimation. If the writer was dyslexic, should not someone else have checked the letter before sending it to a client? Commas and full stops were in the wrong places. Words that had no right to be there suddenly appeared - viz "for the a up to date postition of their and claim and we anticipate confirmation". Now, let's all sigh together: "Education, education, education."