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'Destructive' pupils could be down to us

I suggest that Steve McCormack reconsiders the motivation for his choice of profession ("The destructive presence always in our midst", December 17).

The language and tone of his article suggest an embittered teacher who is finding it increasingly difficult to interact with his pupils. Note the implications of his choice of verb when he says "the six million-strong body of humanity that swills in and out of state schools" and his deeply offensive simile comparing some children to a terrible illness - this "sour and sizeable minority exists like a cancer".

Mr McCormack should think a little more objectively about the reasons for the disaffection many pupils experience. Perhaps these are to be found in the culture and ethos of our education system, and even in our own practice as teachers.

I teach in an inner-city school in which pupils face a range of very significant challenges with admirable determination, grit and good humour - not forgetting perhaps the most important qualities of all: talent, imagination and searing honesty. Surely a teacher's duty is to bring these qualities to the fore in pupils and not to project angry frustration on to children.

Finally, I would like to remind Mr McCormack that the problematic "characteristics" he assigns so disparagingly to some children are invariably a direct result of the pressures created by a society that is produced and controlled by adults to serve an adult-generated agenda.

Perhaps a little more insight and self-awareness is required into how we as teachers can work with our pupils to navigate - and perhaps improve - the increasingly complex world into which they are emerging.

Russell Harris, London.

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