Friday, 12 September 2014

Was Geneva Wrong?

 Was Geneva Wrong? The Positive Effects of Cruel and Unusual Punishment in School Children. 

Dr Callum Mittie III, MA PGCE Kitekat BAGA 4

IT HAS LONG BEEN ASSUMED that part of the role of the teacher is to be an ethical guiding light and a pastoral carer towards the children in their charge, but what if this so called 'nurturing instinct' is, in fact, totally wrong?

The first difficulty of this study is defining what actually constitutes a child. What is a child? I ask, and it is a difficult question, because no-one really knows (Serafinowicz 2002). The latest edition of the Wandsworth English Dictionary defines 'A Child' as being a creature between 3"2' and 5"6' in height and with a Geiger counter reading of (+/- 2%) 10x108 (Wandsworth 2014). All of this is, of course, the sort of mundanity that is well known in the teacher profession, for what sort of teacher, in these days of accountability and data-obsession, enters the classroom without their handy personal Geiger counter? So the real question here is what makes a child a child outside of just their physical attributes. This, of course, is where Serafinowicz falls short, and not just literally.

If you were to dissect a child, and I'm sure most of you have, you would find a confused jumble of string-like organs, each of which contains an individual 'emotional trail' of hormones. It is now well-understood that only one of these 'emotional trails' can be connected to the organ loosely described as a brain (or 'think-box' in popular Daily Mail nomenclature) and so the trails consistently vie for sustenance from the think-box housed above it, thereby causing the child's infamous mood-swings. Of course, during the cocoon stage, the child's body chemistry will change dramatically into the well-ordered innards of the average human. Some, of course, will not experience this transition and it is for these anomalies the process known as the 'X-factor' was developed to screen them quickly and efficiently into the care and support of the affectionately-named Big Brother house, where caring older 'Siblings' would look after them.

But how do we make sure that our children grow into their cocoon stage in the most productive way, both for them and for society? It has been the way for a number of years now that they should be nurtured and encouraged, but is this really working? Freedom is only causing a spiral of increasingly negative social interaction and aspirations (Bragg 1984). Students no longer aspire to the top of society, instead relying on the quick-fix-comfort of instant celebrity. In fact, the whole X-factor process has changed from being a sad indictment of our failings as a society to a lauded process with a viewership that, I can only surmise, challenges Autumnwatch as the country's favourite programme. And so, where is nuturing getting us but further and further into our own troubles. To borrow a phrase from the educational pyschologists Belle and Sebastian; There is too much love to go around these days.(Belle, Sebastian et al 2000)

There has been significant movement in this new 'Cruel to be Kind' teaching movement already. For example the popular programme 'Mr. Drew's Last Chance School' where students are given a final chance to succeed before they are terminated, has been met with riotous applause. In America, where they are always at the forefront of sensible and effective educational reform, the 'Hunger Games' has promoted creativity amongst selected underachievers in order to facilitate active learning. The 'Hunger Games' is reminiscent of Montessori's dogma of learning through play and experience. (Collins 2008) The Japanese system entitled Battle Royal is less well known, possibly due to its tumultuous beginnings, but must also be considered as it is very much the spiritual predecessor of the American system.(Takami 2007)

In short, this study will focus on a number of the so-called 'Free' schools, which are of course the schools were student behavior has degraded to the point where students are 'free' to do as they please. In charge of each of these will be placed an overseer, or games-master, who will be responsible solely for discipline. It will be their job to set difficult tasks that should foster competition, creativity and ingenuity in order for students to succeed and then to prosper in the difficult adult climate because, after all, aren't children just little adults after all?


Belle Sebastian et al., Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant; The Fallacy of Nuturing in Secondary Schools, Jeepster Press, Glasgow 2000

Bragg B, The Saturday Boy; A Cross-Cultural Study of Teenage Attachment and Workplace Aspiration, Godiscs Press, Barking 1984

Collins S, The Hunger Games Theory; An Exercise In Learning Through Action, District 12 press, The Seam 2008 (Vol.2 2009, Vol.3 2010)

Serafinowicz P, Look Around You, Volume 1 Issue 3, BBC Press, London 2002

Takami K, Battle Royale, Gollancz, London 2007 (first published 1999 in Japanese) 

ed. Tolkein J R R, The Wandsworth English Dictionary for Schools and Outhouses Sixth Edition, Wandsworth University Press, Wandsworth 2014

Appendix A: Premise

So this happened:

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