Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Why Are You Late Boy? Slept In, Sir.

Today I read this.

It's a tricky one isn't it. When I started my PGCE I was introduced to a particularly tricky year 10 class. I still have the notes for this class tucked away somewhere and it says next to one of the boy's names, in quotations marks, never attends on Tuesdays. I asked, at this point, why (insert pseudonym here) never attended on Tuesdays and the LSA attached to the class said, in very calm tones, that he was a school refuser. I believe my response, and this is as close to verbatim as possible was:
'What the fuck is a school refuser?'

I was not aware that this was a thing. A thing with a name. That not only exists but people, including professionals, accept, almost irrefutably, and label and continue with their lives unfettered by any sort of real panic that this is being identified.

I think i must have been sheltered as a child; I went to a nice Grammar school in the heart of the home counties and grew up knowing that unless you were bleeding out of your eyeballs you went to school and damn would you enjoy it. I had no real concept of the truant apart from occasional whispers in the playground about the kids that had skipped double french to go for a smoke. That was it really. My PGCE and then subsequent employment opened my eyes to a subculture of kids that really don't care and parents that are powerless to stop them.

Life is controlled by the mediating factor of the fear of repercussions. Teaching is the management of those fears. The only thing stopping a child standing up, swearing, and walking out the classroom is the fear of repercussions. When these repercussions disappear, or the child realises that they simply do not care about the punishment, they are free to do whatever they please. The article at the top of this ramble seems to demonstrate this quite firmly. The children do not care that their mother is suffering. The parent may well not care about the sentence. The deterrent is not working and so there is no longer any fear.

Teaching is profoundly just smoke and mirrors and once you swear at the mirror and realise that it can't do anything there is nowhere to go for professionals. Inclusion centres are just areas where students can avoid work and don't get shouted at by teachers they hate. Being suspended or expelled just lets the children avoid school; something that they are aiming to do anyway. Punishment in all its contemporary forms does not work because there is an attitude problem from the young and their parents. A decent chunk of the population seems to mistrust, hate, and seem to think they are in a battle with schools. I have no idea how this attitude can be adjusted. It seems to be inherently a lack of internal attribution of blame. I know that as a teacher if I teach a bad lesson then I go away and think about how I can improve. I wonder whether there will be a review of this process by the LEA. Cornwall Council's principal education welfare officer, said: "Prosecution is a last resort when everything else has failed." and they are correct here, everything has failed, and is still failing. This is not an end result. Has it helped the students go to school? No. All this has done is ostracised the family and imbued them with even more distrust of schools because the school, in the children's eyes, has taken their mother away. 

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