Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 16 September 2010

"Hi, Jenny, how's it going?"


First they took away the gowns, then the raised desks - too hierarchical - and the right to exclude unruly pupils (or shout at them - or, perish the thought! - make sarcastic comments); now pupils are to address their teachers by their first names.

'The pupils at Boughton-under-Blean and Dunkirk Primary school in Faversham, Kent have been ordered to abandon using teachers’ surnames with the title of either ‘Mr’, ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’ in front of it.'

This sort of thing isn't new, of course - it's long been a feature of schools at the extreme end of the progressive spectrum - but it's a worrying development, particularly in the light of incidents involving cyberbullying or intimidation. Not that that seems to have occurred to anyone:

'School bosses say they hope the trial will “enhance the relationship” between the kids and their mentors.'

Is it me, or do the words 'enhance the relationship' ring alarm bells left, right and centre? The relationship between teachers and pupils is a complex one - for the protection of both parties*, a certain distance has to be maintained at all times. It's clear where the blame lies in this case:

'Headteacher Hugh Greenwood, who came up with the idea, said: 'We hope the pupils really take to the concept. "We think it makes learning a more personal experience and allows teachers to come down to the pupils level."'

You know what? I don't want my children's teachers to 'come down to the pupils' level'. I want them to command respect both for their adult status and their superior knowledge. It's damaging enough when parents try to be the child's best friend - when the teachers are at it too, there's no-one left to emulate except celebrities.

It all goes, once again, to prove the principle that head teachers need to be kept busy or they start interfering with the running of the school.

*It doesn't look as if there's going to be much help from the unions here, if this from JuliaM is anything to go by.

4 comments:

  1. I want them to command respect for their adult status and their superior knowledge. It's damaging enough when parents try to be the child's best friend.

    I couldnt agree with you more. Teachers and pupils go to school for two completely opposite reasons. Teaching and Learning. They are not there to make friends with each other.

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  2. "Is it me, or do the words 'enhance the relationship' ring alarm bells left, right and centre?"

    It's definitely not you!

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  3. Weird world, where's the alternative universe?

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  4. Bucko - it says much that there are head teachers willingly embracing the title 'Head Learner' and prattling about how 'we can all learn something from each other'.

    Hence the Oxbridge graduate told by an education lecturer, 'You lot think you know it all - we don't need your sort in teaching'.

    JuliaM, as your blog has recorded in the past, there are quite enough 'enhanced relationships' between pupils and teachers in the courts already.

    How many more will result from the mixed messages sent by this policy? Addressing yout teacher as 'Tom' or 'Jackie' is one thing at six but quite another matter at sixteen.

    Maybe you're right, Demetrius; sometimes I think there is another parallel universe out there, and somehow all the sensible people have buggered off there and left a few of us behind.

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