Last week The Telegraph newspaper reported that a college in Brighton were planning a field trip to observe “working class culture” in action at a football match:
“To anyone else, a trip to a football match would merely be a chance to see some sport played.
But for sociology students at one sixth form college, it has been billed as an educational opportunity to see racism, homophobia, hyper masculinity and working class culture in action.
Varndean College in Brighton is offering AS-level sociology students the chance to watch Brighton and Hove Albion take on the “notorious” Millwall Football Club at their home team’s American Express Community Stadium.
A poster for the trip on Friday says those involved will be able to see “gender performance” in action, including types such as “the new lad” on show.
There will also be a chance to observe “issues around sexuality, race and ethnicity,” “women challenging gender norms” and to “even talk to football fans,” it promises”.
Former students familiar with the local area having attended school and sixth form near to Millwall FC criticised this proposed trip:
…This is ridiculous, I really hope a group of Millwall fans turn up to the Sociology class in Brighton unannounced to observe the natural habitat of the misguided hipster and snobbish lecturer who could never quite make it beyond lower middle class… seriously what’s wrong with people?
“Seems like the the Varndean College still hold onto their past grammar school mentality. I’m a Millwall season ticket holder, Black, in the middle class, no criminal record, never experienced racism in or around the stadium, and I go with my sister. The course director should apologise. This approach is just breeding the next wave snobbery to wash over Brick Lane and Camden.
Dr Garth Stahl, currently lecturer at University of South Australia’s School of Education, but who previously taught at a 11 to 18 school in southeast London where many of the students were Millwall fans:
“Brighton’s Varndean College offering students the chance to observe the crowds of the “notorious” Millwall Football Club where they may possibly observe “racism” and “homophobia” certainly presents an interesting venture into experiential learning. Unfortunately such a venture – depending on how the pedagogy is delivered – runs the risk of pathologizing white working-class culture further for these AS-level sociology students. Students are already exposed to a ubiquitous pathologization of the white working-class which is ever-present in UK culture. This is partially fueled by a morose pop culture fascination with social class and “poor” behaviour as seen in the popularity of recent television shows such as Channel 4’s Educating Essex. Varndean College’s efforts are reminiscent of the 2007 controversies concerning Glenalmond College in Perthshire where students from privileged backgrounds made mock videos of Etonians ‘chav hunting’ young men in sporting apparel. While Varndean College students may gain a more nuanced study of “lad culture” and gender performativity upon their trip to Millwall, I would also hope their teachers push them to examine such behaviours with a certain criticality. Considering working-class culture as both highly contextual and historically constituted is essential when considering why certain behaviours are validated through social collectiveness and why they continue to be of fascination to certain outsiders”.