July 27, 2004
Experiencing it at first hand

AliMiraj.jpgThis article by an aspiring Conservative politician Ali Miraj about an unruly visit to a South London school is worth a read. The kids are out of control, but they aren't evil.

His recommendation is that teachers and schools should be, you know, better. Great idea. But the banality of his prescription shouldn't deflect attention from the excellence of his description of how things now are.

The complete lack of discipline was overwhelming and disturbing. My thought - somewhat predictably - was that this would never have happened in my day. It would have led straight to detention. But my day was only 11 years ago. Had things really got this bad in schools?

We have all heard the stories about deteriorating classroom behaviour, but it is very different experiencing it at first hand. What these children needed was a firm, metaphorical kick up the backside. They had no respect for authority. It was only when the head of year entered the room and threatened the troublesome children with exclusion that a momentary hush descended.

Then it got worse. A near riot broke out in the neighbouring classroom where my colleague was talking about the attractions of medicine as a career. Half my class promptly jumped up and ran next door to play their part in the fracas. Those remaining looked at me apologetically. "Carry on, sir," said one of them, reassuringly.

He made some headway, however, and satisfied himself that although lacking in respect for authority, these kids were not stupid. Like he says, schools ought to be … better.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:34 AM
Category: Politics