Goodness, what a nest of vipers I have stirred up! R Brown and a second anonymous critic take umbrage that I have seen many, many teachers who institute tremendously successful behaviour management strategies in their classes and have fantastically productive relationships with their pupils. Perhaps these critics would prefer me to stop complimenting teachers.
I can't win. First, I am wrongly barked at for claiming to be a "self- styled expert": then, when I clarify that I was referring to expert teachers I know, I am growled at for claiming that I am "not an expert". Such is the incoherence of the true cynic.
One issue: at no point have I passed judgment, as your anonymous correspondent claims, on those who "feel a need to reinforce discipline on pupils." Indeed, it is integral to the work I do with schools and student teachers that indiscipline is dealt with immediately and consistently.
Many of the more common behaviour management strategies, such as positive assertive discipline, categorically demand that boundaries of acceptable behaviour are clearly established and adhered to. The difference is that these strategies professionally empower the teacher to do something in the classroom before chucking pupils out to be dealt with by superiors - which is, of course, always an option in the most serious cases. Therefore, to imply that I would somehow allow indiscipline to run wild is yet one more falsehood.
As for the classic tactic of suggesting that I wouldn't cut it in the classroom any more, there is no need for me to return to your anonymous correspondent's staff "to show us what we're doing wrong": I can call on a number of colleagues working in schools who could easily demonstrate how to ensure huge improvements in classroom behaviour.
Indiscipline is, of course, a major issue, but will not be solved by bleating that children cannot be excluded at the stroke of a pen: the tools to tackle it lie in the hands of well-trained, professional and committed teachers.
Raymond Soltysek, department of curricular studies, Strathclyde University.