Upon realizing the pedogogical potential of Russell Brand's dirty prank calls, the headmaster of a hoity-toity north London school incorporated them into an English exam that was then administered to 14-year-old students. Now he doesn't understand why are some of the kids' parents are so upset about this.
Made in 2008, the dirty prank calls feature Brand and English TV/radio presenter Jonathan Ross calling up actor Andrew Sachs and leaving messages boasting that Brand "fucked" and "had lovely sex" with Sachs' granddaughter, who dated the eventual Mr. Katy Perry for a spell. The calls became known as "the Sachsgate scandal" and resulted in 50,000 complaints to the BBC, suspensions of the two stars, a resignation by Brand, public apologies, frowning, and lots of introspective wanderings along the English moors. Despite their controversial aspects, Hampstead School headmaster Jacques Szemalikowski believes they're the perfect tools for teaching kids about the "real world," because what if they are someday pranked by Russell Brand and that other guy? How should they place such a call in its appropriate context, if not given the proper tools in their developmental stages?
"I think it is a totally appropriate thing to be doing," says Szemalikowski. "The unit [involving the Brand calls] is all about how people react to language and the limits of freedom of expression and this was a very famous snippet. It's all about interpretation. It was a controlled assessment."
We might have chosen the McLibel case to get the same points across, but we know nothing about teaching British high schoolers (or any high schoolers). Besides, it's not like Szemalikowski is the first educator to use the Brand tapes—a Welsh school used them in 2009 for similar purposes. Man, in the U.S. you can't even play The Daily Show for your students without losing your teaching post.