Miss James, room 47 – Behaviour

Ah, me – the school year resumes. What joy. Not for the first time do i wonder at the wisdom of my career choice. Two weeks of  short holidays and then back to the nonsense of the Spring term.

Ha! That has to be a joke. It’s fucking Winter – 5 weeks in if you count from December 1 – and months away from Spring, even in this silly part of the world. Is there something wrong with truth in terminology for terms? Really, it should be Autumn, Winter, Spring. That is the truth – there is no Summer here, let alone a Summer term.

Perhaps this terminological lie is indicative of the terminal lies at the heart of Education – both in this country and world wide? If you can’t even name your school terms correctly how can you tell the truth about schools, students, teachers or anything?

So, I wait for tomorrow – a day of PD – professional development. Behaviour, I believe. Well, we don’t behave as a staff but i don’t think it’s about us. No, I have the pleasure of working in one of the most deprived areas of this country – an inner city school, a formerly failing inner city school. Though we’re not really a “passing” school yet. Thus the behaviour of the children is “challenging”.

Ah, another euphemism. Spring Term, Challenging. Politically correct terms stalk the corridors of Education. Challenging means our young charges can’t – but more oftenwon’t – behave. They push it all out there – abuse each other, abuse us, physically threaten us, spit on us, throw furniture at us, stand over us, swear at us, refuse to co-operate at the first hurdle and in the midst of it all we must maintain our Easter Island faces and calm the savage beast, try to keep the others safe, or from going off another deep end into a frenzy of juvenile misbehaviour and somehow try to teach them something.

Some of them do have genuine behavioural needs – they are so deprived or abused that they do not know how to behave appropriately, how to speak to adults, or each other. Co-operation is a place in central Europe, self control is a Pacific island paradise they’ll never visit, responsibility is to be found in the frozen wastes of the Antarctic.

You can’t teach if they don’t want to learn. You can’t teach if they don’t want to behave. But it’s our fault – all the misfortune that befalls them due to crap parenting, shit home-lives, violent and fearful streets, inadequate diet, learning issues – if they won’t behave and don’t learn. God help us, they can’t even bring a pen to class.

Ofsted don’t look at that – issues of depravity – assess us against Eton – please do. Inclusion is the watch word – all of them in together – the clever clogs, the severe learning needs, the EAL, the special needs, the behaviourally nutty, and us – and if we’re lucky a TA – all trying to make it sing and dance and hum along with the children showing progress every 5 minutes.

I was wrong. Tomorrow’s PD should be about staff Behaviour – why we persist with this profession – with the political nonsense that has nothing to do with anything pedagogical and sacrifices to the alter of Data – improve- progress-improve. Never mind salient things like relationships, what we learn when we’re not being taught and that Education is actually about Learning – you have to be actively in the space for anything to happen.

And a pen of your own would help!


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