Anorak News | iPods In Class For A Dog Of An Education

iPods In Class For A Dog Of An Education

by | 11th, April 2007

1980_barbara-woodhouse1.jpg“AN IPOD BRIBE FOR BAD PUPILS,” announces the Mail’s front page.

Readers learn that in a climate of “soaring indiscipline”, teachers are to “reward” pupils with “prizes and privileges”.

The formula for conformity, compliance and obedience in the classroom is that pupils “must be praised five times as often as they are punished”. The Government’s “rewards/sanctions ratio” is 5:1.

Young Dogs New Tricks

This is teaching the Barbara Woodhouse way, treating children like dogs, admonishing soiling the carpet, inappropriate sniffing and vandalising chairs, praising sitting still, staying when told to stay and jumping through hoops. The message is Pavlovian.

And instead of dog biscuits, Bianca and Armani will receive treats ranging from non-uniform days, extended break times, cinema tickets, “state-of-the-art bicycles” and “personal music players”.

Yes, that’s right. The iPod makes a good headline. And Bianca behaved so very well to get one. But at the point of achievement, Miss whips out a supermarket own brand equivalent instead. It’s like being told the Queen is going to open the new sports hall and finding Prince Edward in her place. No amount of aversion therapy can quench the rage within.

Of course, this is overlooking the likelihood that unruly pupils may well own an iPod already, indeed they may well have taxed one belonging to a classroom colleague.

But it is hard to argue against the genius of rewarding pupils unwilling or unable to learn with increased time away from the classroom. Behave really well, kids, and be allowed to remain in the playground all day, come rain, sleet or tropical cyclone.

Wee Will Overcome

And something must be done. The Mail hears Bryan Beckingham, a maths teacher from Oldham, tell delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference in Harrogate: “When a pupil throws a bottle of urine over a member of staff it is unacceptable.”

It is always advisable to lay out the rules early on. So throwing urine is out. Got that?

And Sue McMahon, secretary of the NUT’s Calderdale branch, has some more to say. Says she: “My members this year have been bitten by a five-year-old, thumped by a six-year-old, kicked by a seven-year-old, spat on by an eight-year-old, punched by a nine-year-year-old, verbally abused by a ten year old, received malicious damage to her car by an eleven-year-old, gobbed on by a 12-year-old (see eight-year-old), told where to go so many times by a 13-year-old that they nearly went there, head-butted by a 14-year-old and received a facial injury so bad by a 15-year-old that it required surgery.”

It’s a progression of injuries. See the 38-year-old in the adult literacy class fashioning a dirty bomb and upsetting Miss Goody’s class.

System Failure

But this is surely preaching to the converted. This behaviour is unacceptable. But how new is it? Perhaps such things are now just better reported? Perhaps it is not the pupils who are to blame but a confused education system that allows pupils to drift and has seen children with special educational needs enrolled in ordinary schools.

clockwork.jpgWhatever the underlying trends, the Mail hears nodding heads complain. Roger Whelan of “right-leaning” think-tank Civitas, says, “We don’t want to give pupils the idea that good behaviour is the exception that has to be rewarded at every stage.” He says children are able to “get away with blue murder”.

Neither Bryan Beckingham nor Sue McMahon made any mention of murder in any shade. But a point is being made. And Chris Woodhead, former chief inspector of schools, asks: “As a taxpayer, I would like to know how much this absurd guidance cost – it is a complete irrelevance to the real world.”

Money could always be spent on better things than compiling Government guidance or, say, a junket to Harrogate.

But many the plan is as queer as a clockwork orange. And matter may rest on what message is preloaded into those iPods.

Posted: 11th, April 2007 | In: Tabloids Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink