Danger! Mad scientist ahead

16th March 2001 at 00:00
On the day that The TES Scotland carried another report about children's negative images of scientists, I saw an advertisement for a breakfast serial that was being promoted as "Too tasty for geeks!" The ad featured a freaky kid with a maths book. Not prone to road rage - few classic car drivers seem to be - I nevertheless experienced a bout of media rage.

I sometimes worry about myself in this respect. When I'm alone with a television or radio I can get quite worked up and start flinging abuse at people who annoy me. That said, I have now made my peace with Brains from Thunderbirds who got it in the neck from me about 210 articles ago. Watching the reruns of the classic Supermarionation series, I discover that he's cooler than I remembered and his scientific assistant Tin Tin is infinitely more fanciable than fag-puffing Lady Penelope. (Errr . . . don't take this stuff about fancying female puppets too seriously, folks.) Road rage and media rage combined to a degree the other day as I drove from Tesco accompanied by Edi Stark's Making the Grade programme on the radio.

The topic was home education. There were the usual sincere ramblings from the home educators on the panel about school not educating the whole person but it was when the discussion moved on to whether or not kids taught at hoe were happily integrated into society that things got nasty and the red mist came down.

Someone in the audience - I forget his name, but we'll call him Mr Arrogant Self-Righteous Bawheid - smugly announced that, try as he might to integrate his home-taught children with others, they refused to bully, show aggression or be rude to adults. I can't remember his exact words because I was too busy trying not to crash. Not easy when your breath has been taken away and your brain has just gone into profanity-production overdrive.

I am surely not alone in walking corridors that are peppered with kids whose home life is a nightmare. Present also, and in larger numbers, are their peers who go a long way to help keep them on the right track through friendship, tolerance and kindness.

I am not naive enough to think that there is no aggression, bullying or rudeness out there. The implication that it is universal is unwarranted. Any suggestion that it is an inevitable consequence of a "normal" school experience is a disgraceful slur.

In the week that this article goes out, Making the Grade will have tackled the subject of science education. The tyre marks on the Lanark to Carluke road should indicate how upset I got about that one.

Gregor Steele used to swear at "The Archers".


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