Skip to comments.'The Disruption Made Teaching Virtually Impossible. I Could Not Believe What I Saw' (UK)
Posted on 04/23/2005 6:23:18 PM PDT by blam
'The disruption made teaching virtually impossible. I could not believe what I saw'
By Julie Henry, Education Correspondent
As the petite, middle-aged teacher shouts desperately for the 20th time for the out-of-control class to be quiet, a faint, childish boy's voice can be heard, calling out above the deafening din: "Suck ** ***, miss".
The appalling scene of classroom disorder and disrespect is just one of many captured on film for a channel Five documentary, to be screened this week, which will reignite the debate on how to tackle bad behaviour in schools.
'Sylvia Thomas', a teacher who agreed to film her classes secretly On returning to teaching after a 30-year absence, a supply teacher using the pseudonym Sylvia Thomas secretly filmed shocking examples of lessons ruined by large numbers of pupils over a three-month period.
The documentary shows children aged from 12 to 15 completely ignoring her and other staff while they shout, scream, fight, swear and wander around the classroom at will.
In one scene a full-scale fight breaks out and a 6ft tall boy is seen wielding a rubber truncheon, as the terrified teacher calls for help. In another, pupils throw books, pens and balls of paper across the room for a full 15 minutes as the teacher protests, before they declare that they "don't give a ****". In yet more disturbing scenes, a boy in a computer class is filmed accessing hard-core porn sites and then protesting his innocence, saying "I just typed in '****', miss".
The supply teacher was filming in 15 ordinary secondary schools in London and the north of England - randomly chosen by the supply agencies she contacted, and none of them considered to be failing by recent inspection reports.
Clearly shaken by her experiences, the teacher said she could not comprehend the behaviour she filmed, using a tiny camera hidden in a briefcase and a microphone disguised as a jacket button.
"I could not believe what I saw. I could not describe what I saw," she said. "The disruption that I experienced made teaching virtually impossible. These were schools in middle-class areas, not sink estates. We are not trying to single out the schools in the programme. They could be schools in any part of the country as far as I am concerned, this behaviour is so widespread."
In almost every class, the teacher is seen repeatedly trying to restore order - but her authoritative voice and friendly, no-nonsense approach makes no apparent impact on pupils.
She is ignored or challenged constantly. In one maths class, a 12-year-old who was censured for saying, "Shite, miss!" told her: "I've got just as much right as you to say what I want. I've got a right to speak up for myself."
"It was a constant battle," the teacher said. "Some pupils have got the idea that they can threaten the teacher with the police, with being summoned and sued. Teachers end up walking on eggshells, and when you do that, you can not discipline a child. The balance between the child and the teacher has swung too far in favour of the former - and they know it. The whole way they walk down the corridor says 'We are in control'."
The documentary, Classroom Chaos, to be broadcast on Wednesday, lays bare a growing tide of "low-level disruption" identified earlier this year by school inspectors as a major concern. In his annual report, David Bell, the chief inspector of schools, said that nine per cent of secondaries suffered from "persistent and unsatisfactory" behaviour - up from six per cent in 2000.
Schools staff also report increasing levels of abuse and violence. A recent survey by the Teacher Support Network, a charity that runs a helpline for school staff, found that 98 per cent of respondents had been verbally abused and 45 per cent threatened with violence. One in five had been assaulted and 38 per cent said their personal property had been damaged or defaced.
At its conference last month, the National Union of Teachers, the biggest teacher association, voted for a national charter of behaviour - with sanctions for pupils who breach it - to be drawn up in an attempt to stem the tide.
All three main political parties have pledged to improve school discipline. Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has promised support for teachers who apply zero tolerance in the classroom.
The Government still insists that schools must take their fair share of disruptive pupils, however. The Conservatives have promised to abolish appeals against pupils exclusions and create "turnaround schools" where poorly behaved pupils can be rehabilitated. Some 21,000 new teachers and smaller classes are pledged by the Liberal Democrats.
According to Ms Thomas, however, the turnaround will not be easy. "I thought maybe their behaviour was because I was bad teacher, or because I was on supply," she said. "But I've shown the video to teacher friends and they say the same things have happened to them." She has now given up teaching for good.
Look at the parents and you'll find the problem.
Ping to self for later pingout.
Words fail me.
Introduce a program of having the parents attend as well.
How, pray tell, does Parliament propose to "improve school discipline"?
Short of making "disrupting the class" a capital offense, that is...
Government policies doubtless contributed to the problem; but there is not a damn thing that they can do that will solve it.
Get your kids out of publik skoolz, Mate.
In the course of my job, I saw two incidents today that stood out. One was a 8 or 9 year old kid with a mohawk. The moment I saw the kid I said to myself he probably has some violence issues. I was stereotyping, making presumptions and reminded myself as such and then a second later the kid started punching with one hand his other open-palmed hand, obviously pissed off. I laughed just because my instinct had seemed to prove true. Just a moment but I am sure that if a got a look at the kid's school record I would find disciplinary problems.
The other was in a low-income housing project where, again, an 8 or 9 year-old was involved (I do door-to-door customer service). In this case the kid was walking up with a rock in his hand and a larger kid, maybe 15, made it clear to the kid that he would be pummelled if he followed through on his obvious assault attempt.
There have always been punk kids but I'm sure both of these kids are the result of dna, bad parenting and a overly-liberal society.
Well, they could start by getting handcuffs from Florida..LOL
I don't think anyone thinks that taking a cane and beating children was a good idea. Read Roald Dahls book BOY if you think so. It was cruel.
But you had an education system who went from using corporal punishment as a deterent to using nothing- snap... just like that. There wasn't a process to it. There wasn't an alternative introduced. So now you have a whole generation of parents who are clueless- who think the school discipline should stay in the schools. And don't want to involve themselves.
Pray for W and Our Troops
How much more needs to happen before things change?
Ya see Sylvia, you get a cricket bat and when he opens his mouth to spill out his filth you....
Just joking. If this is the way parents raise kids today think what we have to look forward to when these yard apes start procreating.
That would have a meaningful positive impact.
But can you imagine such a bill actually being passed. Either in the UK or the US?
Government schools are evil.
I went to public schools in the 70s and 80s and never saw anything like this. I assume that a "supply teacher" is a substitute teacher. I think kids do tend to take more advantage of a substitute teacher than they would a regular teacher though.
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