What is a necessary curriculum for state security?


I’m still thinking about Ally Carter’s humour, I guess, but I’m also thinking about the way that concepts of school/schooling enter into this fiction

When Cammie introduces everyone to the Ambassador, for example, she states: “Bex took the ambassador’s hand and said hello in a way that would have made Madame Dabney extremely proud. ‘And this is Zach,’ I said, rounding out the group; but Zach just stood stoically with his arms across his chest. (I guess the Culture and Assimilation curriculum at Blackthorne leaves a lot to be desired.)”(195)

There is, here, that thread of the school story coming through… the competition with the boys’ school that is a brother-school, yet also the antithesis of what Gallagher Girls’ Academy stands for (in that they were training assassins…). The feeling of a finishing school for young ladies brought in by the character of Madame Dabney (and her class, too) also adds to the fun – since these girls ‘kick ass’…

Consider also: “‘Guard change,’ Bex said, her eyes never moving from the binoculars that had been a permanent part of her face for hours. Townsend made a note, and I remembered the immortal advice of Joe Solomon that, at its heart, being a spy is boring. The older I got, the smarter my teachers became.” (206)

Okay, and while I’m on it… consider this… how academic is ‘spying’? Cammie (the narrator/protagonist) states: “I know the theories behind interrogation tactics. I’ve seen the tutorials. I’ve read all the books. In the part of my mind that was still thinking, processing, planning, I knew that if the Circle had wanted to break me, there was no better place than my father’s grave. …I knew it might have worked.” (237) It’s just the way ‘theories’, ‘tutorials’, ‘books’ come together so naturally as resources for a curriculum in spying… why is that? Dispositions are, of course, important in this series, but what makes spying something you can learn like any other subject?

And, how are concepts of school and schooling presented in this series? How do our ideas about school help make Carter’s humour work? …

Ref: Ally Carter (2012) Out of Sight, Out of Time. Orchard: London, Sydney


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