In the Guardian, Jenni Russell writes about the plights of two teachers who wound up in court because, basically, pupils dishonestly accused them of assault. One was acquitted, one was found guilty by magistrates clearly in need of a reality check. Can’t say I’m too surprised, though.
I have one experience of the magistrates’ court – on a motoring charge – I’ve never seen such a dumb bunch of ass-wipes in my life. I mean that quite sincerely – between the three of them they were quite incapable of following what was going on, and had it not been for the clerk of the court (or whatever the correct title is), the whole thing would have degenerated into farce.
Many years ago, I worked with a guy who was a Justice of the Peace, a nice enough guy, but as dumb as a stump. Really, magistrates should be selected on the basis of intelligence, and the ability to have an elementary grasp of court procedure, not because, as in his case, he was a scout-master.
This is what Direct.gov says a magistrate needs:-
a good character
strong communication skills
commitment to the work
No mention of a reasonably high degree of intelligence, and I find that deeply worrying. But I digress…
The crux of Ms. Russell’s excellent article is that pupils are now the ones with the power in schools. True, and by any measure that has to be profoundly unacceptable.
For since 1986, corporal punishment has been banned in schools – thanks in no small part to woolly-minded liberal Guardianistas.
This left teachers with no viable sanctions against disruptive and violent kids – they could dish out lines or detention, but if the kids refused, they could do nothing. Schools can’t even expel disruptive and violent pupils these days, without having their decisions overturned by the government. Schools now operate solely on the goodwill of such pupils, because there is sod all staff can do to impose their will, or discipline, if the kids decide they want no part of it.
We are now reaping the whirlwind, sown in a torrent of hot air in the mid eighties. Nobody should be surprised at the results.
I’m sure there’ll be comments telling me how cruel and offensive corporal punishment was, mostly from people, I suspect, who never experienced it, but, hey, it worked, and nobody was actually harmed by it.
Pupils behaved, well mostly, because they knew what would happen if they transgressed and certainly far better than they do today in many schools (the threat, rather than the actuality, of the cane was often sufficient for most). OK, some teachers – very, very, few in my experience – abused their power, and lived their lives in the classroom with cane permanently in hand. Most, though, were completely fair, and if you got whacked you deserved it, because you knew you had broken the rules. These days the concept of “rules” is entirely alien to many kids.
We didn’t have gangs of “feral youths” roaming the streets unhindered, either. Why? Because, in my school, at least, any offences you committed outside school – vandalism, fighting, whatever you did that you that shouldn’t have – would get you caned before the entire school after morning assembly. How would the scumbags like that, I wonder? It’d certainly take the fun out of driving the mother of disabled children to suicide.
Nor did we see teachers in court on trumped-up charges like that.
And yet we’re supposed to believe that what we have now is , oh, just so much better than the days when little Johnny would get a wholly justified clip round the ear or, if he persisted, caned.
But, you know, it’s not.