Loaded message in gun anecdote

BEFORE I moved to Germany more than 20 years ago, I used to teach English at a girls' boarding school in Moffat, Scotland. Looking for ideas to make children write, I found one in a teachers' journal at the time. This suggested that, as an inspiration for writing a newspaper report, the teacher should go into the classroom armed (secretly) with a cap-firing pistol. This I did. After a minute or so's verbal altercation with a pupil, who had been pre-warned, I drew the gun and "shot" the offending pupil. My "disruptive" pupil was a very lively spark, a good actress, and played her part to Hollywood standards.

When we got over the shock, we talked about the incident - the pupils thought it was marvellous - and wrote up their reports accordingly. The results were astounding - even from the most normally unresponsive pupil.

This was 25 years ago. What an unspeakable change has taken place since then. Now I tread softly; I am afraid I would probably lose my job for staging such a lesson. What has happened to our society in one generation?

Dinah Kiehl

Talane 50,

Dorsten, Germany

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