Thursday, 9 October 2008


Here's something I never thought I would do... look back wistfully at my last school and yearn for one of the teachers and his strict discipline and old fashioned values. I thought of him today when I was on duty, as he used to organise the duty rotas at the last place, and whilst I never really got on with him, he did embody a set of values that a number of the older teachers held dear, which seem overlooked by those of the same generation at my current place.

For thousands of years the elders in society have complained about the lack of respect amongst the younger members. It's just a rite of passage for older people like myself to be disrespected in the same way we used to disrespect our elders when we didn't give a hoot. What goes around comes around. If only for that life lived backwards, youth is wasted on the young, and all that.

But I can't believe the way that the pupils in my current school have a complete lack of boundaries, of knowing (assumes teacher-voice now) where the line is, and when they have crossed it. I thought it was just me, being new and being verbally prodded to see how far I will go. But today I was observing a senior teacher with a class of GCSE students. At first I was smiling wryly to myself: here where the usual complaints and protests about a task from a bunch of students who will just about scrape C grades if they are lucky, or more likely, when the exams are dumbed down yet again. Different kids, different school, same moaning. It does bring a smile to your face to know that some things are just universal.

What shocked me though, was the way that some of the students were cheeking this teacher, and she did not even acknowledge that this wasn't the way to talk to an adult. Even another teenager would have taken offence at the tone of delivery. And now I am alert to this, I am witnessing it time and time again. This afternoon, another senior teacher who has served at least thirty years at the school was completely ignored when issuing instructions to badly behaved students in the corridor. He had to raise his voice to stop them in their tracks, and even then, in a busy corridor swarming with pushing kids, most of the miscreants just carried on with the flow, whilst only two listened to his wrath.

During last lesson, my class were doing group work. It's a big class and although they are only Year 7, whether it's their keenness or boisterous, as an entity they can be noisy during collaborative work. I was circulating, and had stopped by one group. A boy had called me from another group and I visually acknowledged him with a sign I'd be there in a moment. Suddenly, a huge voice bellowed out to attract my attention, and I just couldn't believe that somebody would act that way! I turned slowly on my heel to glare at the culprit, asking very seriously and slowly: "Are you shouting at me?" If that boy ever does that again to me, I'm quite prepared to eat one of his trainers, that is how certain I am that he got the message.

But I fear that for some of them further up the school, they are lost causes by now. They have been pandered to and put up with for so many years that for them, teachers are just like their friends and can be talked to or shouted at or sworn in the presence of in the same way.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, what you say about the total lack of boundaries is something I see every day as well. I teach at a couple of fairly... er... "challenging" secondaries, and it's quite routine for me - well, most of us - to experience this sort of behaviour several times a day. These kids have practically NO social skills; I've had comments about my clothes, hair, make-up etc. and there's absolutely no realisation from the kids that that's not the sort of comments they should be making to someone 30+ years their senior.

For my part, I don't let them get away with it either, and will always pick them up - if a kid demands a pen, I ignore them until they ask and use the word please, and certainly don't tolerate being yelled at; but the trouble is that some staff seem to have given up trying to combat this sort of behaviour, and when one teacher lets kids get away with it, and another doesn't, then of course they're going to keep doing it.

Ranting Teacher said...

My sympathies to you. My school is in no way "challenging" in the scheme of things, although to Mr Chips it might have seemed like an asylum, but still I cannot believe the audacity of what goes on...