Monday, 15 August 2011

That's right - blame the teachers.

We switched on the news and saw the devastating effects of a broken society. We read the papers, pausing to absorb, then struggling to read on. We were drawn to You Tube, blogs and Twitter, sucking in opinions like a sponge. Then we listened to the radio, and a member of the public rang in and said "I blame the teachers me" and we looked at each other and said "That didn't take long".

So it's our fault; our lack of discipline in the classroom means we have taught young people it's acceptable to destroy your community, set fire to cars and buildings, mug innocent bystanders and attack the police. It's amazing that exam results are improving when we're all so busy inciting anarchy.

Teacher’s jobs are to teach. They are not there to bring up children, neither is it the government’s job, that responsibility lies solely in the hands of their parents or carers.

Teachers stopped being disciplinarians a long time ago. This power was taken away from us. Somewhere between then and now, children started being "always right" like customers, schools became businesses and head teachers managers. Parental complaints became more important than teacher's professional opinions and shouting only resulted in a sore throat.

There were no punishments that mattered any more, there were no consequences, no after effects.
"So what give us a detention. It's only an hour"
And they were right. That’s all it would be, their parents wouldn't care, they wouldn’t take their pocket money off them, ground them or confiscate their PS3, because that would make their lives "too hard", or that they had to spend some time with them.

Today's youth are spawned from a generation of parents who have yet themselves to learn about responsibility. This youth have had no one to teach them about consequences, they don't feel guilt or acknowledge their behaviour to be disrespectful or irresponsible. They are preoccupied with their own rights and what they believe to be owed to them - their hand-outs.

To this generation triumph is not a feeling, it is a materialistic reward. In the class room a teacher's praise and a good grade is not enough - "So what'd I get? Don't y' have sweets or summit?" They have learnt right from wrong through bribery and when they stopped believing in Santa Clause their parents ran out of ideas.

They are a generation that has been overindulged, bailed out and had materialistic items lavished upon them. They have grown up in a bubble of invincibility where they have been allowed to walk out of schools shouting over their shoulders "You can't talk to me like that I'm going to get me Dad up here". And the same parent that comes to the school at year 7, defending their child's honour, putting in a formal complaint about a teacher, will be the same parent who comes to the school 5 years later sobbing "He's out of control! I dunno what to do with him?"

"For me, the deepest issue at play here is one of responsibility. Who is responsible for law and order in our nation? Who is responsible for the behaviour of our young people? Can we blame the state when parents have been allowed to abdicate responsibility for the behaviour of their children?" Shaun Bailey, The Guardian. 

Shaun Bailey has worked as youth worker in London and writes for The Times and The Guardian. He looks at the youth through the fragmented glass from a broken society. He questions how we have allowed people to expect the government to provide them with a house, an income and bring up their children.

In schools, the ultimate weapons of exclusion and permanent exclusion are made a mockery of when parents are allowed to freely appeal against them. The decision, which was best for the school, is then over-ridden by a troop of governors, who make decisions based upon figures and statistics. And once again we send out the message - "You're untouchable".

It is easy to point the finger, it may even you feel better, abdicating your own responsibility, but don't point it at teachers. Yes, there are some bad teachers out there; there are people who teach because it's a job, not a vocation, ones which would rather be anywhere else but a classroom, ones who teach because they couldn’t think of anything else to do with their degree. But the good outweigh the bad; if not in numbers in their presence. There are people working with children who may agree with the riots, some may even have taken a role in them: a learning mentor from a primary school in London has been charged with attempted burglary during the riots. But this is out of the ordinary; that’s why it made the news.

The majority of Teachers work really hard to make a difference. Even though many of our Teachers find themselves working amongst the products of neglect, abuse, deprivation and social injustice. Even if their classroom is full of students who are already foregone failures on paper, they still go back the next day and try all over again.

"If a person suffers from such lack of self respect, why would they have any respect for authority or their community? It is easy to believe that increased discipline will work, if you yourself fear exclusion." Emma Jones,

In Emma Jones' article she talks about issues that Willy Russell was fore-fronting in 'Our Day Out' in the 1970's. The outcomes are different but the issues are still the same; the oppressive environment, the lack of opportunities, children fulfilling society's expectations and the rest.  Can there still be the same problems thirty years on? Well Band Aid released the same song twenty years later because there was still famine in Africa. Nothing is fixed with a play or a song. Nothing so big can be so fixed so simply.

But I do know one thing - it's not the Teacher's fault. I'll accept that we can be blamed for an illiterate youth (even though the BBC need to take responsibility too - as they no longer feel the need to use capitals or apostrophes). I'll accept that children are spoon-fed for exams and lack real depth in their learning and I'll even accept they we are to blame for the bad weather during English Summers, because as soon as Teacher's holidays begin the sun disappears. But riots? No. This one's not down to us. This one we all need to take responsibility for.


  1. Absolutely agree - but well done for those exam results - you must be doing something right!

  2. Well I can't take any credit this year,as I'm having a couple of years off to be one of those house wifey Mums - hence how the blog started! Still like a good old rant in the teachers' defence though.