Follow the thread

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Bill Hicks takes a weekly look at the hot topics in the TES chatrooms

Hot topics in the forums this week were sex (as in sex education, but also as in teacher-pupil relationships) and disruptive behaviour.

No surprises there, then. Along with religion (less Islam, more Opus Dei right now), socialising, NQTs' insecurities, and the antics of senior management in British schools around the globe, these are the topics which have driven the forums since we painstakingly hand-pasted the first postings back in 1997.

But, last week, even threads on the "most embarrassing questions in a sex education lesson" and "student-teacher crushes - are they ok?" (the answer was "No!" 45 times over) were eclipsed by the indiscipline threads, stoked up by anticipation of Ruth Kelly's speech on Tuesday.

At this point, I would have quoted at length from threads such as the "Teachers against inclusion string" and "Head refuses to deal with behaviour!!!". But the Daily Telegraph beat me to it. There they were, splashed across four columns of page 4 in Wednesday's edition, a litany of youthful violence and insolence, meeting adult despair, rage and frustration. Juicy extracts shoved under the headline, "Tired, totally beaten and frightened... now I've quit", provided the broadsheet with a useful chunk of actuality to counterpoint the report of Ms Kelly's speech on the same page.

What happened next would be worthy of a learned disquisition in the Media Studies forum. Some posters recognised their quotes in the Telegraph, and started a new thread: "We've been rumbled!" Several posted links to a version of the story on the Telegraph website. Useful media cross-fertilisation - how modern, what fun.

But not all were happy. Music teacher, composer and prolific forums commentator Rob Steadman was scathing: "What poor and lazy journalism! No checking for facts, no checking that any of us are teachers, just taking our word for it. Very poor indeed."

Coolasacucumber, who claimed four quotes in the article, was more accommodating: "I can't say that I am not pleased that the concerns of teachers are being printed in a national newspaper for a wider audience to read..."

Eachpeach was worried: "Let's hope Telegraph readers don't start visiting this site and thus see what a frenzy of ghastly leftism and unthinking modernism goes on here."

Oh, really. Well, I have run out of space, so you will have to wait until next week for the sex, the frenzy, and the ghastly leftism.

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website.

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