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Nose ring generation disses its teachers

"Never mind the homework, it's the teachers we don't like. They just don't know how to dress." Sixty-eight per cent of Italian high school pupils put teachers at the top of the list of "things they like least about school".

The main cause of complaint was their teachers' lack of dress sense.

In the survey, carried out by the student magazine Campus, and reported in La Repubblica, a thousand pupils aged 16 to 19 were given a list of typical grouses to choose from: too much homework, decrepit buildings, the teachers, useless subjects and lack of relevance to the world of work.

Excessive homework came bottom of the list. Pupils were more worried about finding a job and the state of school buildings. A spate of surveys following the collapse of a school in an earthquake last year, in which 26 children died, have suggested that 50 per cent of Italian schools are unsafe.

But the majority saw teachers as the number one problem. "Unfriendly", "uninterested in young people" and "unable to involve pupils in lessons" were typical descriptions of teacher's shortcomings. But the most annoying thing is teachers' frumpy clothes.

Falling rolls and recruitment freezes have driven up the average age of teachers to 46 in primary schools and 50 in secondaries, widening the age gap between them and their pupils.

Teachers under 30 are rare. Decades of low salaries have turned the profession into a job for married women, financially dependent on husbands to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

For those teachers who have to struggle along on their own salary, finding the cash to make a monthly visit to the cinema or to have a pizza with friends can be a real problem. Designer clothes are out.

Most teachers seem unperturbed by the criticism. As one history teacher in a Rome liceo put it, "I confess my total ignorance of youth fashion, tattoos, and such like.

"The only thing pupils should require of me is that I know my subject. I don't see why I should have to talk to them about their nose rings."

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