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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Little Buggers

Two of our staff at Nuova Lazio High are thinking of leaving.
Not Nuova Lazio itself, but the teaching profession. 
One has just had enough of being verbally abused day after day, the other has had enough of being assaulted.
Both are good teachers who have been working with kids for over 15 years.
Both are respected by most of their pupils and by their colleagues.
Both have had enough.

A typical LB
The Ministry of Education is pressuring schools and principals to reduce the number of stand-downs and suspensions handed out to the naughty kids.  We try different methods, like restorative meetings, where both parties involved discuss with a mediator the circumstances and feelings involved during an incident which caused a breakdown of the normal relationship between teacher and student.
It can work, but only if the student wants to re-build the relationship.

A scary LB
Many people outside the profession don't realise that schools have changed hugely since they sat at a desk in a classroom.  Respect  can no longer be demanded of the students for the teacher, it has to be earned, and students demand that they be respected as individuals by the teacher.
It's not just schools that have changed, society has changed, especially in how most citizens view authority.
So we are now in a situation where the truly nasty kids are almost impossible to discipline.  They and their parents know we are virtually powerless.

LBs in their national dress, hoodies
Let me take you through a typical situation so you can get a feel for the problem.
A pupil in Year 10 in your class refuses to stop talking to his mates.  The constant noise is causing loss of concentration by the other pupils, and very little learning is taking place because you are spending all the time in trying to get this little bugger (LB) to just stop talking.
Eventually you've had enough and send him out of class.
He refuses to go and keeps on talking.
You then send a pupil up to the administration block to get a Deputy Principal.  If you're lucky the DP is there and takes the boy out.
The class has lost about 15 minutes, 25% of today's teaching time.
You have to then record the incident in the computerised student management system, using professional language, because the comments you are writing about the LB is now in a public document and are liable to be shown to the parents if they request them.
The little sod returns to your class the next day, and the cycle repeats.

LB Returns
Sometimes he doesn't come to class but roams the school instead, banging on doors, breaking and tagging.
If a pupil plays the game according to the rules he now knows backwards, he can stretch the whole process out for not just months, but years.
All he has to do is show a little bit of remorse or empathy now and again and the powers that be allow him back into class.
It is not until LB is 16 that we can actually throw him out, but even that process is fraught with dangers, and really needs support form the parent(s), which is not always forthcoming.

New School Uniform
And now the government is talking about extending the minimum age at which a student can leave school to 18.
And they're talking about increasing our hours.
And they want us to spend time in school on compulsory extra-curricular activities.
And they want to pay us less , and to do extra work during the holidays.
And they blame all the problems of the younger generation on the teachers, and are constantly repeating the mantra of "Teachers are Shit" to the media and the public.
And they want us to, in the first year of teaching (when you really learn the skills required to survive and to teach well by the only real method, direct experience) to undertake a Masters in Education, at our expense, in our free time.  What free time? You're so absolutely knackered that first year from constantly controlling/communicating with all of your kids, that all you really want to do is sleep.
And they constantly push new ideas, new concepts and approaches to teaching, most of it is crap, but we have to listen and try to obey.

Another Mad Idea
The government had better be careful.  I've rarely seen so many teachers so militant.  We're sick to the back teeth of being the government's whipping boy.
Just wait until the first strike, when packs of LBs go roaming around malls and shops because they aren't allowed into school.
Just wait until the LBs are stuck at home and Mummy or Daddy have to take a day of work to look after LB.  Won't that have a great effect on the country's productivity?
Just wait until the crime rate goes through the roof, because LBs are now breaking and entering outside of school instead of inside.

No wonder we occasionally snap.
I'm just sorry that our two friends have had enough.


  1. We have some pretty rough kids in New York too.
    I feel for you teachers, wouldn't want to be one myself!

  2. Wow, quite an emotional post there.
    You guys do a good job with what you have available, don't let the man get you down.

    Gruntled Student

  3. Yeah, stick it to the man!
    Dewey Finn

  4. I think that you are losing sight of the fact that these are just children. They have their good days and their bad days. It is up to us to guide them through their difficult periods. Recently the children I teach have been a little unsettled and I know that it is because of stresses at home. Two of them, whose fathers have had a little financial setback had their usual school holiday trip to Switzerland cancelled the poor dears, having to make do with Queenstown instead. I just accept that they are going to scribble in their work books or drop some litter around. This is a way of venting their disappointment and anger. Lets be understanding.


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