They shouldn’t have given up tawse so easily

By Sam Clarke

Sam Clarke
Sam Clarke

THREE Rs are two too many. Wow, an English and arithmetic lesson in six words – more than some youngsters will get in a lifetime of schooling.

But Glasgow kids have proved they can get by on one: rampage. Well, in between the dope, the booze and the occasional beating up of a teacher.

Of course, it gets worse at secondary school.

During 2005/06 scores of primary pupils were thrown out for attacking staff, as well as nearly 400 teenage exclusions.

Add the euphemistic “substance abuse”, traditional fighting, touches of verbal, vandalism and assault with potentially deadly weapons and the total is 6930 “exclusions”.

Naturally, Glasgow City Council is appalled at disciplinary figures prised from its education department at the sharp end of an Evening Times Freedom of Information request.

Erm. No. Not exactly.

Quoth a city council spokeswoman: “Our schools use a wide range of initiatives to try to reduce the number of exclusions.”

Things like “dedicated teachers in behaviour support” with a “strong focus on pastoral support”.

Head buried in the sand? Yeah, all the way to her backside.

Posed picture of a tawsingSo now that the pupils have taken over the classroom and declared war on teachers, surely the EIS, the teachers’ union, will ride, like the Seventh Cavalry, over the horizon to the rescue.

Nope. EIS secretary for Glasgow, Willie Hart, couldn’t even muster a spud gun: “What we are seeing is a whole raft of children who are clearly not socialised or suited to mainstream education.

“It is one of the most distressing trends and is another rationale for introducing smaller class sizes and expanding nursery education so that we can spot difficulties early on.”

Did I misread or does Mr Hart also represent the apologists of this world? And what have class sizes got to do with discipline?

My memories may be four decades old, but they don’t include much lip, and certainly no violence, towards teachers faced with more than 30 kids in a room.

What’s lacking is discipline, parental control and freedom of action for teachers.

Throwing bad kids out of class is less punishment than reward, it gives them exactly what they want.

Too many parents are a foul influence, defending their offspring to the point of fisticuffs even when the child is patently the most evil, thuggish misfit.

As for teachers, well they have to shoulder some responsibility for giving up the tawse so easily.

The moral high ground is a bit draughty, even tucked up in a hospital bed.

What’s needed is not cotton wool, psychologists and a dose of Ritalin but less sympathy for thugs and zero tolerance towards teen insolence.

Chain offenders to desks (go nicely with an electronic tag), reintroduce corporal punishment and bring back ritual humiliation at the front of the class.

Children, parents and teachers alike have got to learn discipline isn’t a dirty word and respect cuts both ways.

The easy way has had its chance.