Wednesday, 23 October 2013

2013 Guest Speaker2: Mr Milburn

These are notes from Mr Milburn's talk to, and question/answer session with, 10Y/Cz2 on 23.10.13 - if you were absent for Mr Milburn's talk with any class you can use these notes to help you write up your Q2 answer.
FT = Fairtrade
I've included some large images, so click read more below to read the full post.

  • I'm a 'person of influence' because of 'my role across school, as a Key Stage 3 Leader for Year 8 - responsible for 247 students', also 'as I have lead Citizenship and currently teach Citizenship'
  • 'My view on FairTrade is primarily a personal one, NOT a professional one as a teacher. I appreciate how fortunate I am: I've always wanted to be a teacher, and the simple fact of being born in the UK has meant I was able to go to a good school, then university, and to teach in 3 schools before IGS, which really is an excellent school. Most of this was free education. I own my own house and car; I don't really want for anything! As I said, this is mainly because of where I was born.'
  • 'If, on the other hand, I'd been born in somewhere like the Dominican Republic I'd probably be cutting bananas on a sweltering hot plantation. Indeed, I'd probably have at least another 8 hours of work left today!' [this was at 1.30pm] I'd be going back afterwards, exhausted, to a very different house, with no car to jump into and probably few decent roads to travel on. If I fell ill, I wouldn't have access to doctors.'
  • 'The bottom line is that I think we should be doing this because we should be doing something to make the world a fairer place.
    Mr Milburn discusses IGS' enthusiasm for making IGS a FairTrade school below; the school leadership is keen on the idea!
  • Should IGS be a FairTrade school? 'Yes! Remember that Karen Palframan mentioned this too; as she said we actually only need 2 more things to happen in order to win that status: we need a policy and we need a student group to meet regularly to oversee this. Mrs James would like to see this happen. What it really needs is student involvement and action: it should be students writing the policy. We can use templates from other schools who have done this to help with the student organisation.'
  • Why is FT important? 'We can and should be part of a community actively promoting fairness around the world.'
  • What would you change about FT? 'I would like there to be no FT! What I mean by that is that I wish there was no need for FT, that instead companies always gave producers and the workers a fair deal and a fair wage. Sadly, it's hard to see that happening: if huge global corporations essentially volunteered to reduce their own profits they would come under pressure from their shareholders. So, I think we will need FT.'
  • Is FT a lost cause then? 'Not at all - look at the example of KitKat. Produced by one of the world's biggest food corporations, they decided to switch to FairTrade chocolate. The price stayed the same, as did the quality - KitKat remains a very successful product. But that decision will have benefitted many, many people in LEDCs.'
  • Shouldn't we look closer to home? What about UK farmers? 'It's a fair point - we've seen UK farmers come under huge pressure and struggle to stay in business due to the low price paid by the supermarket giants. So, yes, I think we should encourage a fair deal for UK farmers as well, but not instead of, foreign farmers, such as the Dominican Republic banana producers or Ghanaian cocoa producers.'
  • Do you buy FT yourself? 'As much as I can! My ability to do so is somewhat restricted by the choices the supermarkets near me make. If they stock FT options I'll usually buy them, but they don't always provide FT options.'
  • Is the cost of FT items a problem, especially when the UK economy is struggling? 'It's a fair point - the biggest potential problem with FT can be the cost; it can seem a luxury item.'
  • Why does the school focus on FT and not other causes/charities? 'There are two answers to that! FT is practical: we have strong links to Ilkley FT, meaning we can provide guest speakers for you, which is vital for section 2 of the controlled assessment. This also helps us to get involved in events, such as the bunting around the Cow and Calf rocks. The other answer is that, if you think about it, across your time in IGS each of you will be involved with a wide range of causes and charities. Look at what we do for Red Nose Day, or with the Christmas hampers, to take just two examples.'
  • Is there an argument that FT is not a good thing as it is encouraging environmental damage, given the distance these foods travel? Should we not accept that we can do without bananas for instance?! 'Tough question! I don't think I'm willing to give up bananas! There might be an issue there, but I think the important thing is that we don't try to offset one issue for another.'
 Remember, you're not only summarising what our guest speakers said but also exploring the differences between the two and considering in general why some people might disagree with Fairtrade's argument. Some points on this are included in this post. The last question, above, is an example of why some people in general may disagree with Fairtrade. The questions on UK farmers, cost/pricing, (apparent) IGS focus on FT over other causes each provide some useful points you could explore as general reasons some people might differ on this issue (not necessarily our two guest speakers/'people of influence').

Remember too that Mr Milburn's position comes from his school role whereas Karen Palframan's position comes from her role as a leading member of the Ilkley FairTrade group. Both, though, are clearly passionate about the issue, and follow this through with personal choices. Mr Milburn continues to promote FairTrade within the school, as the article below shows, and seeks to buy Fairtrade products where he can, while Karen goes as far as Palestine to investigate and draw attention to the conditions she wants to see changed. Both of them use forms of media to help get their points across and raise awareness.
Mr Milburn's 'position of influence' isn't confined to the classroom; he also helps promote the FT cause within IGS

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