Even in schools you find humans;Opinion

24th April 1998 at 01:00
Springtime - and a young man's thoughts turn to love. The young man in question was in our first year. His big sister, a responsible fifth year, reported that she was taking some verbal abuse from two first year girls.

When the miscreants were tracked down to history, they looked quite mature but seemed uncomfortable. Then the whole sorry tale tumbled out. The first year boy had been going with one of them. He had bought her a "pure big gold chain'' for her birthday. But before the gift could be handed over she dumped him. The shop refused to give him his money back. Big sister intervened and expressed her big sisterly opinion, and retaliatory verbals began.

This is not exceptional. The recent shadow of the inspectors meant that two of our current fourth year have spent less time fondly nuzzling each other in their lunch break. But now the presence has vanished normal service has been restored.

Some years ago our school sports champion and leader of men conducted a highly demonstrative relationship with the girls captain. A match made in heaven, it seemed, till he was seen one interval sobbing furiously on her shoulder while she started blankly into the middle distance.

And public demonstrations between staff can develop even in the best run establishments. One Ayrshire school was the scene for exciting episodes to rival Home and Away, when the headteacher and the principal of home economics were seen to emerge from the home economics room hastily adjusting clothing and hair, as the first year class waited expectantly outside after lunch.

Even more egalitarian was the London headteacher who shocked her staff by returning from one holiday married to the school caretaker. Sadly it did not last. He was last heard of in Bolivia living with a tin miner's daughter.

At times of crisis the school hierarchy and colleagues ought to be supportive, but sometimes aren't. One former colleague went off with nervous disorder after her husband left her. The depute head, feigning concern, phoned her doctor to check if the reason for the absence was legitimate.

The good doctor quite properly gave the depute a mouthful and refused to play that particular game. Hippocratic Oath meets hypocritical oaf.

Teachers cannot go through working life inured from the pressures of love, life and death.

To expect that makes no more sense than calling teachers "restricted professionals'' because they don't spend every waking hour checking grade related criteria and constructing differentiated worksheets.

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