As a pads brat, I attended a lot of schools in the 70’s and 80’s. The worst one by a long chalk was a bog-standard comprehensive. It was by no means the worst, by no means the best, just an under-achieving, mediocre establishment. A favourite one-liner of many teachers is, “Would you do that at home?” a bit like British Army NCO’s and the droll catchphrase, “Don’t call me ‘Sir.’ I work for a living.” LOL.
When I think of some of those members of staff (“members” being quite an appropriate description in many cases) and their actions, I often think of that teacher’s catchphrase. I think of the physics teacher who thought it was legitimate to grab a scrawny thirteen-year-old by his tie and warn him to keep away from other kids out of school hours. I think of the biology teacher whose idea of fun was to prod a pupil in the solar plexus and say, “Isn’t that true, Mr GingeInGermany?” I think of the careers teacher a couple of years away from retirement and a bit demob-happy, picking up an extra management point for being careers teacher, sticking on a video about joining the Army, while saying, “Don’t worry, girls, next week I’ll put on a video about working in a office” because she thinks these male oiks are good enough for cannon-fodder and the girls are only good enough for working as filing clerks and secretaries before the end up pregnant and “happy with a nappy.”
The hang ’em and flog ’em brigade are fond of talking of the good old days. For me, secondary school was a holding pen. Staff under the charge of a headteacher who thought of herself as a “benevolent dictator” were interested in the first team. The also-rans, well, they find a mediocre job with their mediocre education. They’re only oiks, anyway. Our own offspring go to a decent school, anyway.
Attending church (Christ Church Anglican, Duesseldorf) today, I heard a very interesting sermon, all about St Paul’s letter to Titus, My ears pricked up at the following passage:
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Poking, prodding, choking and belittling young people. Would you do that at home, sir? Well, sir, would you?